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Trinity College Library 
Durham, N. C. 


A History 


Grassy Creek Baptist Church, 

From its Foundation to 1880, 


Biographical Sketches 


Pastors and Ministers. 



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If the saying is true that " Got! is in history," it is emphati- 
cally true that God is in the history of his people. The recital 
of their illustrious deeds is proclaiming to the world what God 
has wrought through their agency. The record of their achieve- 
ments brings us near to God, and distinctly marks out his ways 
among the children of men. It shows that God has done great 
things for mankind by the religion of Christ, and any contri- 
bution to this department of human knowledge, however small 
or circumscribed, is adapted to awaken in thoughtful minds, 
Ci-uins of reflection which may be turned to profitable account. 

Grassy Creek is one of the oldest Baptist churches in Up- 
land !N"orth Carolina, and was for many years the seat of ope- 
rations for the denomination in the regions around. There 
are many interesting facts connected with its early movements, 
some of which have been lost in the rubbish of time, and others 
are rapidly sinking into the bosom of oblivion. The writer 
having been happily connected with the church as pastor for 
nearly thirty years, and naturally feeling a deep interest in its 
history, was induced to undertake the work of compilation, be- 
lieving that unless he did, it would probably never be don". 
The labor, not to say perplexities, in collecting the materials 
for its preparation, greatly exceeded his calculations ; but still 
he was much interested, and hopes benefited in the investiga- 
tion ; and should the reader enjoy the perusal of its pages, and 



be profited bj' the facts and sentiments expressed, the writer 
will be amply repaid. Uninfluenced by pecuniary motives, 
the work was u idertaken with an earnest desire to be useful, 
by contributing something, however small, to the stock of 
church history. With the best wishes for the prosperity and 
religious elevation of his fellowmen, the author presents this 
little work to the public, hoping that it may be of service to 

the cause of truth and righteousness. 

R. I. D. 
Youngs' H Roads, 1ST. C, June, 1830; 



I. A Bird's Eye View of the Early History of Xortli Car- 

olina, 9 

II. A Bird's Eye View of the Early History of Gran- 

ville county, 27 

III. Distinguishing - Principles of the Baptists, 29 

IV. The Church Covenant and Kules of Decorum, 43 

V. The Organization of Grassy Creek Baptist Church, 

and Incidents connected with its Early History, 49 

VI. History of the Church derived from its Records, 

with Interesting Items, and Remarks by the 
Compiler, 71 

VII. Biographical Sketches of its Pastors and the Min- 

isters sent out from the Church 103 


A party from Spottsylvania county, Va.. united with 

Grassy Creek Church, 56, 57 

A remarkable fact, 67, 63 

Anxious seats, when they came into use at Grassy Creek 

Church, 70 

A baptismal scene, 9S 

Anti-ism repulsed, 92 

A list of Ministers, Deacons and Clerks, 101, 102 

Baptists unjustly dealt with by historians, 16, 30 

Baptists, the eaily history of in Xorth Carolina, 17 

Baptists divided into Separates and Regulars, 60 

Baptists have never persecuted for conscience' sake 39 

Baptists, a distinct and peculiar people, 29 

Baptists, the "Primitive" so-called, their origin, 93 

Baptists, the origin of the term, 41 

Baptist State Convention of 1So9, 95 

Baptist pioneers in Middle Xorth Carolina , 50 

Church Covenant, -13 

Craig, Elijah 57, 58 

Converted church-membership 32 

v Dancing, a worldly amusement interdict' d, SI 

s >lP"ivisioii of the Sandy Creek Association, 73, 74 

Feet-washing, 64 

False doctrine, how treated, 76, 77 

Grassy Creek Church, when organized, 53 

Grassy Creek Church has ever been missionary, 100 

Granville county, when settled, 22 

Granville county, when formed, 21 

Granville county, its women, 24 

Granville county, its hospitality, 24 

Granville county, its Baptist element, 26, 27 

Individual responsibility in religious matters, 36 

Independence, Baptist church polity, 35 

Lay-Elders, the office of, in the church, 65 

Laying-on-of-hands after baptism, 62 

Lord's Supper, the neglect of, how treated, 79, 83 

Looseness concerning baptism reprobated 90 

Long pastorates encouraged,.... " 101 

Marriage, the laws regulating it, 11, 12 



Ministerial support in early times, 54, 55 

Ordinances of the gospel unchangeable, 33 

Private offences, how treated, 78 

Public worship, the duty to attend upo i, 87 

Private judgment, the divine right of, 36 

Rules of Decorum, 46 

Roanoke Association, 85 

< Revivals, how conducted in early times, 69 

\ Separate Baptists, the origin of the cognomen bj r which 

they were distinguished, 59 

Separate Baptists, union with the Regulars, 61, 77, 78 

Soul-liberty, a Baptist doctrine, 36 

The Bible an all-sufficient guide, 30 

Talking too freely, how dealt with 89 

The churches formed from Grassy Creek, 101 

The first newspaper published in North Carolina, 11 

The sketches of ministers : 

Allen, Zachariah, 142 

Battle, Elisha 118 

Baldwin, Moses 131 

Creath, William 138 

Daniel, Robert T 120 

^Harris, Samuel 105 

King, James 127 

Lester, Henry Ill 

Montague, John E 145 

Marsh, Robert H 134 

Picket, Reuben, 115 

Reed, James 103 

Richards, William 140 

Vass, Thomas 112 

Walker, Sanders 136 

Whitehead, William 137 

Worrel, William B 123 



Grassy Creek 



A Bird's Eye View of the Early History 
of North Carolina. 

The first permanent settlement made in North 
Carolina by the whites, was in April, 1663, on Du- 
rant's Neck, on the north side of Albemarle Sound, 
in Perquimans county. These colonists came from 
Virginia, having been driven off by religious per- 

In 1665, the proprietary government was estab- 
lished by charter, which, without regret, terminated 
in 1729. The total population of the colony at this 
time was about 10,000. 

The first legislative body ever called together in 
North Carolina, termed the General Assembly, held 
its session in 1066, at the house of a Quaker, on 
Perquimans River, George Durant presided. Up 
to 1720, the Assembly met at private houses, on the 
same river, but generally at the house of Capt. Wm. 


Sanderson, whose land is now owned by Hon. 
George Brooks, United States Judge of the Eastern 
District of North Carolina. 

In 1729, the boundary line between North Caro- 
lina and Virginia was run under the direction of 
commissioners appointed by both provinces. The 
people who lived on the border manifested a good 
deal of anxiety about the matter, afraid lest the line 
should pass south of their dwellings, which would 
compel them to submit to religious intolerance. The 
laws of conformity were never attempted to be en- 
forced in North Carolina. The people were com^ 
paratively free from ecclesiastical oppression. The 
surveyors reached the bank of Hyco on the 6th 
of October, at least 50 miles west of the residence of 
any white inhabitant. Here the North Carolina 
commissioners left, but the Virginia party contin- 
ued the work until the 26th of October. The sur- 
veying party was so delighted with the beautiful 
appearance which the face of the country presented, 
along the borders of Granville and Person, in North 
Carolina, and Mecklenburg and Halifax in Vir- 
ginia, that they called it the Land of Eden. At this 
time (1729) there was not a white settler in the 
county of Halifax, Virginia, and up to 1733, there 
were only two, — Peter Mitchell, in the Fork, between 
Dan and Staunton rivers, and Aaron Pinson,* on 

*Aaron Pinson 's name appears on the church book at Grassy- 
Creek among its first members. 

:;uKTii CAKOLiXA. 11 

the south of Dan, one mile below the mouth of 

In 1730, the colonial government was established 
under royal authority. George Burrington was 
appointed Governor of the Province of North Caro- 
lina by the king of England, and the next year he 
qualified at Edenton, and entered upon the duties 
of his ©ffice. 

On the 13th of April, 1731, the first legislative 
assembly of the province, under the authority of 
the King, convened at Edenton. During this ses- 
sion the three primary divisions of North Carolina 
were abolished, and each precinct was denominated 
a county. Governor Burri ngtoh's administration 
was short and oppressive. To escape the gathering 
-storm, he returned to England. 

In 1734, Gabriel Johnston was appointed Governor, 
and took the oath of office in November of the same 
year. His administration was the longest, purest, 
and by far the most prosperous during the colonial 
existence of North Carolina. 

In 1738, the boundary line between North and 
South Carolina was run. 

In 1741, the laws regulating marriage were en- 
acted, making it a civil contract, and authorizing 
justices of the peace to solemnize the rites of matri- 
mony. The Church of England was in theory, and 
by law, the established Church in North Carolina 
till 1776, but there were not many parish ministers 


— no persecutions for conscience' sake, while dissen- 
ters of all denominations increased rapidly through- 
out the province, unmolested. But under the old 
ecclesiastical establishment, no minister could cele- 
brate the rites of matrimony but an Episcopal 
minister, according to the ceremonies prescribed in 
the book of Common Prayer. In 17G6, the Presby- 
terian clergy was granted the privilege of celebrat- 
ing the rite, but Baptist ministers were not allowed 
to perform the marriage ceremony until the Revo- 
lutionary war, when ministers of all religious de- 
nominations were put on the same footing. 

In 1754, New Berne was the seat of Government. 
Here the Governor resided, but the Colonial Assem- 
bly convened in Wilmington. Arthur Dobbs, who 
was an Irishman and an ex-member of the Irish 
Parliament, having been appointed Governor of the 
province of North Carolina, by King George the Sec- 
ond, who then occupied the British throne, arrived 
in autumn and entered upon the duties of his office. 
During his administration there were no violent 
outbreaks, as it would seem there was no cause for 
such, but still the public mind w T as in a state of con- 
stant uneasiness; for the people had learned by sad 
experience that officers who were appointed from 
abroad were usually unfit for the stations which 
they held in the colony. Indeed, the great mass of 
the people were in a state of dissatisfaction and sus- 
pense throughout the whole of their colonial exist- 


ence. At this time, there was not a newspaper pub- 
lished in North Carolina ; but, for the want of mail 

facilities, such publications would have been almost 
useless. Even the laws enacted by the Legislature 
for a long time were not printed — they were pub- 
lished by being publicly read in the hearing of the 
people at the next court after their passage. In 
1764, a committee of the Legislature contracted with 
Andrew Stuart for the printing of the laws of North 
Carolina ; and James Davis, the printer, having 
some leisure, undertook the Dublication of a period- 
ical paper called " The North Carolina Magazine," 
the first number of which appeared June 1st, 1764. 
This was the first newspaper ever published in 
North Carolina. 

At this time, (1754) there were very few public 
buildings for courts, or other public business. 
There were no post-routes traversed by mail car- 
riers. Even up to 1790, under Gen. Washington's 
administration, there were only four post offices in 
North Carolina, namely : Eden ton, Newbern, Wash- 
ington and Wilmington. Letters and papers must 
be sent by special or private messengers, or by trav- 
elers who might by chance be going to the place to 
which they were directed. 

There were, especially in the middle portion of 
North Carolina, no public roads, — they were mostly 
only foot-paths from house to house and from set- 
tlement to settlement, distinguished by notches in 


the trees. The mode of traveling was on horseback 
with packhorses, carrying the bare necessities of 

It appears that the relations which subsisted be- 
tween the whites and natives, were generally most 
amicable up to the horrid massacre and Indian war 
of 1711 and 1712. In this, as in almost every other 
outbreak of the Indians, they were instigated and 
deluded by bad designing men. It is doubtless true 
that there is not a State in the Union that has dealt 
more justly with the aborigines than North Carolina, 
and not one in which more uniformly friendly re- 
lations existed between the whites and natives. 
Their rights were protected by law ; and strangers 
were prohibited from trading with them. A full 
title to land could only be acquired by an emigrant 
after two years' residence in the colony. At this 
time (1754), Middle or Upland North Carolina was 
little less than one vast forest, dotted over with small 
settlements, with a few scattered log cabins inter- 
vening, without towns, villages or public highwaj'S. 
The woods were full of wild game of various kinds 
to allure the huntsman ; hone} 7 , gathered by the 
wild bees, was plentiful ; swine multiplied and fat- 
tened on the fruits of the forest, and cattle increased 
rapidly on excellent pasturage which was found al- 
most everywhere. Milk, butter and cheese were 
abundant. About all the planter was required to 
do, so far as his stock was concerned, was to keep 


them gentle and protect them from the beasts of 
prey. The luxuriant growth of wild pea vines, and 
other vegetation, which covered the face of the earth, 
was not sufficiently destroyed by the frosts of winter 
as to render the feeding of stock necessary. But 
money was very scarce. Trade was chiefly carried 
on by barter. Debts were frequently paid in coun- 
try produce, deer skins, hides, furs, &c. The popu- 
lation of North Carolina at this time (1754) was 
probably a little over 60,000; but it was increasing 
very rapidly. Immigrants were pouring in from 
almost every quarter. They came not from one 
land, or of one profession, or one religious sect, but 
from a number of nations, belonging to several re- 
ligious denominations ; and, in general, they were 
not the adherents of any temporal ecclesiastical 

Men of peaceful habits — hunters and fugitives 
from religious intolerance, with their wives and 
children — came and quietly settled themselves in 
different portions of North Carolina. Sometimes 
they came singly, but generally in small companies 
and settled in the same vicinity for mutual aid and 
protection, as well as social enjoyment. Many who 
were denied soul-liberty in other regions came to 
enjoy the mild shade of religious toleration in North 
Carolina. Here the refugee from ecclesiastical op- 
pression could find an asylum — a city of refuge. 
It is true, that the people were compelled to pay 


annually an unrighteous tax to support the Episco- 
pal Clergy, and they were also taxed to purchase 
glebes, &c, until British rule was forever abolished; 
but otherwise, so far as the writer is informed, no 
one was disturbed or persecuted by ecclesiastical 
domination. Every person was free to worship God, 
as his own judgment and conscience might approve. 
Dr. Hawks, in his history of North Carolina, 
(vol. ii,) from 1663 to 1729, informs us that there 
were various religious sects in the colony ; such as 
Scotch Presbyterians, German Lutherans, French 
Huguenots, Irish Romanists, English Churchmen, 
New England Congregationalists, and American 
Quakers, but he does not say one word about the 
Baptists. Indeed, he has not mentioned anywhere 
in his book the name by which they are distin- 
guished as a Christian sect ; if so, the writer of this 
has failed to observe it. From his silence in rela- 
tion to them, the reader might justly conclude that 
the Baptists had really no existence in the province 
of North Carolina previous to 1729. But now turn 
to the list of the jurymen (freeholders) that were in 
the various precincts in the year 1723, (pp. 62-67,) 
and you will find the names of at least four Baptist 
preachers, namely: Paul Palmer, Win. Burgess, 
Wm. and Joseph Parker, and a considerable num- 
ber of Baptist laymen. But this distinguished, 
author was, perhaps, so much exercised about the 
Quakers, that he failed to discover that there were 


any Baptists in the colony at that early date. While 
most of the North Carolina historians are as reticent 
concerning; the Baptists as Dr. Hawks, yet some of 
them have referred to that denomination, but in 
such a way as to make the impression that they 
came into the province about the beginning of the 
Revolutionary War. 

As early as 1695, there were individual Baptists 
in North Carolina, scattered here and there, in the 
settlements of the colony. At this time there were 
in all the province not more than five thousand in- 

The first Baptist church known within its bounds 
was organized in 1727. It was gathered by Elder 
Paul Palmer, who was a native of Maryland, and 
baptized by Elder Owen Thomas, the pastor of the 
church at Welsh Tract, Delaware. Among the 
names of its male membership are those of Parker, 
Copeland, Brinkly, Parke, Darker, Welch, Evans, 
Jordan, Burgess, Burket, and others. This old 
church, now called Shiloh, is situated on Pasquo- 
tank river in the county of Camden. The settled 
portion of the colony was then (1727) divided into 
three counties, namely : Albemarle, Bath and Clar- 
endon, — containing in all, eleven precincts, and a 
population little less than ten thousand. 

In 1752, by the labors of Palmer, Parker, So- 
journer, and other ministers raised up in that re- 
gion, the churches had increased to sixteen. 


The writer has made some effort to ascertain the 
number of Baptist churches in the province, in 
1776, the year in which the war of the Revolution 
began in earnest, and from all the light he can find 
upon the subject, it is evident that there must have 
been at that time not less than forty regularly con- 
stituted Baptist churches in North Carolina; be- 
sides, a considerable number of branches, which af- 
terwards matured into churches. The records of 
Grassy Creek Church show that there were several 
branches of much interest under its supervision, 
which were not regularly organized until after the 
close of the war. What was true, in this regard, of 
this church, was also true of many others. The 
Sandy Creek Association was organized in 1758, 
with, nine churches, and the Kehukee in 1765, with 
eight more, besides some unassociated churches. 
There were at least twenty Baptist churches in North 
Carolina in 1760, and as the next sixteen years were 
years of great activity among the ministers, it will 
be safe to set down the number of Baptist churches 
in the colony of North Carolina, in 1776, not less 
than forty. 

Gov. Tryon is represented to have said that " the 
Regulators w T eie a faction of Quakers and Baptists, 
who aimed to overturn the Church of England." 
The statement is palpably false in two respects : 
First, it was a civil and not a religious commotion, 
and secondly, there were really no Baptists among 


the Regulators. The Baptist churches were not only- 
free from factions, but they excommunicated any of 
their members who united with parties in opposi- 
tion to the government. Among the four thousand 
Regulators who were scattered through Granville, 
Orange, Guilford, and other counties, where there 
were many Baptists, only seven were found among 
them, and they were expelled by the advice of the 
Sandy Creek Association, in 1769, two years before 
the battle of Alamance. 

Bishop Ives, in referring to the war of the Regu- 
lators, on a commencement occasion at Chapel Hill, 
asserted that " the Baptists had persecuted for con- 
science sake." There is not a shadow of truth in 
the declaration. (See Bendict's Hist, of Bap., vol. 
2, pp. 115, 116 ; Purefoy's Hist, of Sandy Creek 
Association ; Wheeler's Hist, of N. C.) 

It is evident that there were many Baptists in 
North Carolina anterior to the war of the Revolu- 
tion, and that they shared largely in that great 
struggle for Independence.* They then proved 
themselves to be what they have ever claimed, the 
friends and firm supporters of political and religious 
freedom. Their patriotism and bravery were alike 
fully demonstrated by their steadfast adherence to 

*It appears, from all the information the writer can obtain, 
that the Baptists, to a man, espoused the cause of the Kevolu- 
tion, and freely periled all, in maintaining the independence 
of the colonies. 



the American cause, and the heroic valor which they 
displayed on the battle-field. It was their lot to 
stand in the ranks and toil in obscurity, but firmly 
and efficiently. The share they bore, and the in- 
fluence they exerted, that helped to infuse liberality 
in the Constitution as well as in the Bill of Rights, 
have never been fully appreciated or acknowledged. 
Their noble deeds, amid the stirring events of that 
long and bloody contest for life and liberty lie, bu- 
ried in the ruins of history, where they will proba- 
bly, for the most part, remain concealed. 

The following statistics of the Christian denomi- 
nations in North Carolina, gathered from the min- 
utes of 1879, may not be exact, but they are very 
nearly so : 

Baptists, Regular, 1 6 7 gQ 

" Anti-Missionary, 9 750 

" Cambellite, 5 970 

" Free-WIll, \SZZZ" 6^516 

Methodists, Episcopal, 77175 

" Episcopal, (colored,) 33,400 

" Protestant, 23^00 

Presbyterians, 17 »~q 

Episcopalians, 5 54q 

Lutherans, about 10 ' 000 

Christian, (O'Kellyite,) 4 G0 

Quakers, "...! 4,'s50 

Moravians, 2 000 

Eoman Catholics, about j' O0o 



Bird's Eye View of the Early History of 
Granville County. 

Granville county was formed from Edgecombe in 
1746, and was so named in honor of the Earl of 
Granville, the owner of the soil. When it was first 
established, it embraced a very large territory, com- 
prehending Warren and Franklin counties on the 
east, and extending to the Pacific Ocean on the 
west. The following is a list of the names of officers 
of the county as organized in 1746, namely: Wm. 
Person, 1st Sheriff; Robert Foster, Clerk; Robert 
Jones, Jr., King's Attorney; Win. Eaton, William 
Person, James Payne, Edw'd Jones, Edw'd Martin, 
John Wade, Lemuel Lanier, Gideon Macon, John 
Brantly, West Harris, Lemuel Henderson, and Jo- 
nathan White, Justices of the Peace. The court at 
first held its sessions in a private house on the 
plantation of Wm. Eaton. 

In 1749, a court house and jail were built by con- 
tract, for £150 Virginia currency. The dimensions 
of the court house were 32 feet long, 20 feet wide, 
and 11 feet pitch, with two windows on each side, 
and one window in each end above stairs, with 
shutters, but without glass. The jail was 20 feet 
long and 10 feet wide. That remarkable good order 


prevailed in Granville at this early period, is natu- 
rally inferred from the scanty provision made by 
the court for the safe keeping of criminals. 

The court house was located in what is now War- 
ren county, seven miles above Gaston, on Rocky 
Creek, near Boiling Spring. Bute county was 
formed from Granville in 1764, which was, in 1779, 
divided into Warren and Franklin, and the name 
of Bute was obliterated from the list of counties in 
North Carolina. Granville being reduced in 1764 
to its present dimensions, the place for holding its 
courts was removed some two miles above the 
town of Henderson, at the mouth of Mr. Brodie's 
lane, on the road leading to Oxford, where one or 
two terms of the court were held, when it was re- 
moved to Harrisburg, and after holding one court, 
it was removed to Oxford about 1769. 

From the best information the writer has been 
able to obtain, it appears that Granville, as it now is, 
began to be settled about 1715 ; and about this date 
the Indians, the Red Men of the forest, migrated and 
left the whites in the unmolested possession of the 
soil. Among the first settlements, which were effect- 
ed in Granville, were those along its northern border 
on Nutbush and Grassy Creek, and on Tar River. 

As in all frontier regions, the houses of the first 
settlers in Granville were mostly log-huts, which 
required but few tools, and very little skill in their 
erection. The axe, the augur, aud the saw, were 


deemed sufficient in building these rude structures. 
They, with dirt and stick chimneys, covered with 
clap boards, hung on laths by wooden pegs, with, 
doors turning on wooden hinges, and with locks 
made of the same material, were finished without 
iron work or nails. If the homestead was enclosed 
at all, it was with a rail fence or pales, which were 
wattled or wreathed in and out, making a firm fence, 
but as destitute of iron as the house which it sur- 
rounded. The articles of furniture within were few, 
and as roughly constructed as the building which 
contained them. .They consisted of a few stools, a 
bedstead, a corner cupboard, containing some pewter 
plates, dishes, &c, and at that time, two other very 
important articles, a spinning wheel and a loom. 
But better houses with brick chimneys gradually 
arose, which were supplied with a better class of 
furniture. With the early emigrants, a number of 
mechanics, such as carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, 
tanners, hatters, and weavers, came into Granville 
and settled in various parts of the county. But 
agriculture was the principal business of the people. 
All were in some way connected with the cultiva- 
tion of the soil. This was necessarily so from its 
local position. The principal articles cultivated 
were, then as now, corn, wheat and tobacco. The 
citizens could then live w T ell with comparatively 
little labor, as Indian corn yielded abundantly, and 


meat was obtained without much pains, besides the 
woods afforded plenty of wild game. 

As to the women,* all bear strong testimony to 
their virtue and industrious habits. In many in- 
stances they not only performed the household work, 
but also a large portion of what was done on the 
farm. Besides the work of the dairy, they kept the 
spinning-wheel and the loom busily employed. The 
domestic cloth, manufactured by their hands, out 
of their own cotton, wool and flax, served to keep 
their families decently clad. Dressed deer-skins 
were also much used in making garments. This 
was a common article in the apparel of the woods- 
man. The early settlers of Granville were remarka- 
ble for their kind and generous hospitality. This 
noble characteristic of their ancestors they still 
maintain. In regard to the amusements in which 
the people indulged, the writer would simply say, 
besides hunting and fishing, that dancing, foot- 

*The first white woman who came into Granville was Abigail 
Sugan, a French Huguenot. She married a man by the name 
of Cook, who was so improvident that his wife was under the 
necessity of swaddling their first born with old meal sacks 
hastily gathered up at his little mill. Cook having died, she 
married the second time, a man by the name of Christmas, who 
lived at the place now known as Jones' White Sulphur Springs, 
in Warren county. Five of her descendants were Generals in 
the Confederate Army, and three are now distinguished mem- 
bers of the United States Senate, namely : Ransom of North 
Carolina, Harris of Tennessee, and Cockrlll of Mississippi. 


racing, quoits, horse-racing, shooting-matches, &c., 
were among the most common sports of that day. 

The patriotism of Granville, for which it has ever 
been noted, shone brightly in the war of the Revo- 
lution. The county afforded quite a number of 
men, whose names are conspicuous in the annals of 
heroism, who distinguished themselves for wisdom 
in counsel and courage on the field of carnage 
during that long and terrible struggle for life and 
liberty, while the mass of the people gave their con- 
stant and hearty support to the cause of freedom. 
John Penn, one of the signers of the Declaration of 
Independence, was a resident of Granville. He 
lived in the vicinity of Grassy Creek meeting-house 
(some 6 miles distant.) He was not himself a mem- 
ber of any church, but several of his servants were 
members of the church at Grassy Creek. 

It appears that a very large proportion of the 
early settlers were from Virginia, and were either 
Baptists or Presbyterians in religious sentiment. 
That there was a healthy religious sentiment perva- 
ding the early colonists of Granville, is evident from 
the fact that ministers of the Gospel, upon whom 
rested no suspicion of secular motives for preaching, 
seldom failed to obtain large congregations in all 
the settlements they visited. 

At the time when Grassy Creek Church was 
founded, by far the larger portion of the county was 
a wilderness, with here and there a settlement, in- 


terspersed with log cabins, and small cleared fields. 
There were no public roads or mail facilities ; for, 
in 1812, Williamsboro was the only post office in 
the county, and up to 1816, there were only three: 
Williamsboro, Oxford, and Lemay's X Roads. 

Among the early Baptists in Granville, there 
were some men of means, but the most of them were 
in the humble walks of life — moderate in their pre- 
tensions, coveting no positions of worldly honor, or 
titles of rank. Having been harrassed and perse- 
cuted for conscience' sake, in the land of their na- 
tivity or adoption, they came to North Carolina to 
find repose and gladly moved along in the retired 
paths of life, having as little to do in public politi- 
cal affairs as possible, asking only to be allowed to 
worship God as they judged right, unmolested. 
Their influence was efficient in assisting to give 
that religious and moral tone to society, for which 
Granville has been noted. They were as a strong 
under-current, which but seldom appears upon the 
surface, but still it is not the less powerful. They 
have abundantly proved themselves to be eminent 
alike for their patriotism and Christianity. 

Seeing, then, that many of the first settlers of 
Granville were Baptists, consequently, as might be 
expected, there has ever existed a strong Baptist 
element in the county. The number and influence 
of the denomination have kept pace with the in- 
crease of its population. The Baptists at a very 


early period, gained important and permanent 
standing in society, which they have with the Di- 
vine blessing, maintained up to the present time. 
They, as a denomination, have, amid the fluctua- 
tions of time, been preserved from error and divis- 
ion. The steady and uniform course which they 
have pursued, affords convincing proof of the intel- 
ligence and excellency of the character of the found- 
ers and adherents of the denomination. There are 
now eighteen white Baptist churches in the county, 
with a membership of 2,200. These churches are 
working together harmoniously, lending their aid 
to every benevolent enterprise for extending the 
kingdom of Christ in the world, and whose mem- 
bership constitutes a noble band of brethren — in 
doctrinal sentiment — sound in the faith. The Bap- 
tist churches of Granville will, perhaps, compare 
favorably in numbers, piety, intelligence and re- 
spectability, with any other like number of churches 
in the land. 



Distinguishing Principles of Baptists, 

There is a class of religious people in our midst 
who are distinguished by some noted peculiarities 
in their belief and practice. They are called Bap- 
tists. In what particulars do they differ from other 
Christian denominations ? In connection with 
some notes on the history of Grass} 7 Creek Baptist 
Church, I shall give a brief sketch of the general 
features of the Baptists, as a denomination, which 
make them a distinct people, marked and peculiar. 
It is not my purpose to defend, but simply to state 
their distinguishing religious views. In regard to 
what are usually termed the great fundamental 
doctrines of Christianity, they agree, in most points, 
with other sects commonly called evangelical. But 
there are some important religious principles which 
they hold very sacred, and which constitute and de- 
termine them a separate people. For the want of 
correct information concerning their principles and 
practices they have been, and are still, sadly misrep- 
resented, defamed and vilified. No other sect has 
suffered more from partiality and intolerance than, 
the Baptists, or to so large a measure of calumny, 
reproach and persecution. They have ever been ob- 
jects of derision and sneer, and made to suffer severe 

3J G&AStY CltEfcK CH lUiOII. 

and unjust penalties for adherence to the dictates of 
conscience. It is a fact that cannot be denied, that 
there is not any work of history, written by men 
not of Baptist belief, that does not contain defective 
or perverted statements, in relating transactions in 
which Baptists bore an important part. Even com- 
mon fairness has been denied them, and, not unfre- 
quently, they are passed by unnoticed. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that even good men should be 
led astray by prejudice, when so many partial or 
false statements are made b} r the writers they are ac- 
customed to read, and to whom they have recourse 
concerning that sect that is everywhere spoken 
against. The Baptists have always been desirous to 
be understood by others as they understand them- 

I. The Baptists maintain that the Bible, as given 
by the inspiration of God, is the only rule of faith and 

They hold that the plain, obvious teachings of 
the Holy Scriptures alone are binding on the con* 
science in all matters of religion, and that no hu- 
man creed or exposition whatever has any such au- 
thority. They have no authoritative human creed, 
confession of faith, or catechisms to bind them to- 
gether in doctrine and church discipline. A creed 
Is more than worthless — it is dishonoring to God— 
if it is not founded on the word of God, and if it is, 
why not rest on that word — the true foundation it- 


self instead of resting on the scaffolding erected upon 
it. The Baptists prefer to stand on the foundation 
itself. If it is able to sustain them they need no 
other, and if it is not, they cannot rest upon a creed 
that has no support for itself. m But do not all other 
religious denominations profess to hold the sacred 
Scriptures to be the true standard of religious be- 
lief and practice ? Certainly ; but the most of them 
use other authorities in regulating their religious 
practices and ecclesiastical decisions. Do they not 
appeal to their creeds, confessions of faith, or books 
of discipline, as standards in doctrine and church 
order. Do they not regulate their church affairs by 
these human compilations? But do not the Bap- 
tists, as well as other sects, have and use a confes- 
sion of faith? Some Baptist churches have what 
are called ''Declarations of Faith," as simple state- 
ments of what they believe the Bible teaches in re- 
gard to doctrine, church order, &c, but they are not 
put forth by any ecclesiastical authority, nor are 
they in the least binding on the consciences of their 
church members. Many Baptist churches, (Grassy 
Creek is one among that number,) have never 
adopted such Articles of Faith because they have 
not found any need for them. These compends of 
faith do not constitute the bond of union among the 
Baptists, nor are they a standard in any sense, by 
which individuals or parties, whether ministers or 
private members, are tried, either for heresy or un- 


godly conduct. They are put forth to furnish in- 
formation to the people, especially, for the benefit of 
those who are ignorant of Baptist views and usage. 
Jesus Christ is the only king and law-giver in Zion. 
The law of the Lord is perfect. The Baptists have 
always persistently held the sufficiency of the Scrip- 
tures, and invariably refused to receive or follow 
any and all forms of tradition whatever. They 
yield their consciences to the authority of God's 
word, and to that only. The holy Bible is emphat- 
ically the Creed, the Confession of Faith and the 
Book of Discipline of all true Baptist churches. 

II. The Baptists steadfastly maintain the doctrine 
oj a regenerated church membership. 

An individual is regenerated by the sovereign in- 
fluence of the Hol} r Spirit, leading him by faith to 
receive the benefits of the Savior's atonement. No 
external ceremony can effect this radical change in 
the heart, or constitute any one a new creature in 
Christ Jesus. No person is qualified, however amia- 
ble and upright, for membership in a regular Bap- 
tist church, unless he has obtained the forgiveness 
of his sins by faith in the merits of a crucified Re- 
deemer. He must satisfy the church that he has ex- 
perienced a w T ork of grace upon his heart and been 
truly converted to God, before he can be admitted 
to the ordinances of the gospel, or participate in the 
privileges of church-membership. The Baptists be- 
lieve in a spiritual church, and would exclude from 


it every thing that does not worship God in spirit 
and in truth. In a word, they claim that according 
to the New Testament pattern, a church is com- 
posed exclusively of regenerated men and women, 
baptized upon a profession of faith in Christ, and 
observing all things which Christ, the great Law- 
giver in Zion, has commanded. A converted church 
membership is one of the great principles which the 
Baptists have ever zealously maintained. 

III. The Baptists maintain that the ordinances of 
Christ, as he, enjoined them in number, mode, order 
and symbolic meaning, ai'e unchanged and unchange- 
able till He comes. 

There are two ordinances of the gospel, baptism 
and the Lord's Supper. They are institutions of 
Divine authority, and are to be kept as they were 
delivered to us. The Baptists hold that according 
to the New Testament, none are proper subjects of 
baptism but believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. A 
credible profession of faith is a pre- requisite to bap- 
tism, and baptism is indispensable to church mem- 
bership and participation at the Lord's table. They 
reject infant baptism, not only because there is 
neither precept nor example for it in the New Tes- 
tament, but because they are incapable of believing, 
and also because it violates the fundamental prin- 
ciples involved in the doctrine of personal liberty 
and individual responsibility which the}' hold to be 
essential in religious matters. While they believe 


that all infants, (lying in infancy, are saved through 
the atoning blood of Jesus, still they do n<>t believe 
that they are the subjects of gospel ordinances. The 
Baptists claim that they observe the ordinances as 
commanded by Christ, and practiced by the apostolic 
churches. All rites and forms in Divine worship, 
as laid down in the New Testament, must be per- 
formed as the great Head of the Church has direct- 
ed", without change or substitution for convenience. 
Whatever the master has required must be done. 

Baptists contend for the exact performance of the 
act of baptism according to the divine command, 
and, in this, they contend for a principle that ap- 
plies with equal force to every divine institution ; 
therefore they hold that immersion is the only gos- 
pel baptism. In regard to restricted communion, 
their practice is consistent, and logically follows 
from their views of baptism. What others call bap- 
tism, they believe to be only a substitute for it. A 
valid gospel baptism, according to Romans 6:4, is 
the burial of a believer upon his own profession of 
faith in Christ. The Lord's Supper is administered 
according to Gospel order, to those only who have 
believed and are baptized. Baptism and the Lord's 
Supper are of equal authority and benefit. Both 
are symbolic. Baptism proclaims the death and 
resurrection of Christ, and the Lord's Supper shows 
forth his death till he comes. These are the two 
great monumental pillars of Christianity which pro- 


claim Christ's glorious work, for the redemption of 
this lost and sin-cursed world. 

IV. The Baptists, in their government, maintain 
church independency, 

The term independent, when applied to churches, 
has a technical meaning; that is, each church is 
complete in itself, being subject to no higher eccle- 
siastical authority, and competent to perform every 
act of government. The Baptist denomination is 
not a church, but a bod} 7 of churches; for each one 
is independent of each other in all things that per- 
tain to its government. It is just as competent to 
discharge all its duties as if no other church existed. 
The church possesses no legislative authority. Je- 
sus is king. He has given to the church his laws 
which she is to preserve and obey just as he has 
made them, without any alteration or limitation. 
Her duties, so far as the laws which govern Christ's 
kingdom are concerned, are all executive in their 
nature. A church of Christ is invested with execu- 
tive power to carry out the sovereign will of its 
Head. The governmental authority is in the hands 
of the people. It is a pure democracy. Each 
church chooses its own pastor and other officers, re- 
ceives and dismisses its own members, and conducts 
its own discipline, without the agency of any other 
authority. Each congregation manages its own af- 
fairs as they may judge best, without being amena- 
ble to any other ecclesiastical bod v. Associations 


and conventions have no authority whatever over 
the churches. They are a body of churches united 
together on voluntary principles for fraternal and 
missionary purposes. As church-members, entire 
equality prevails among the Baptist brotherhood. 
This simple, independent form of church govern- 
ment, the Baptists believe, is according to the New 
Testament model. 

V. The Baptists hold that a man is responsible to 
God alone for his fatih and practice. 

The doctrine of entire freedom of conscience 
stands out in bold relief upon every page of Baptist 
history. Soul-liberty is the inalienable right of 
every human being. Christianity demands volun- 
tary obedience. Religious duties and a profession 
of faith in Christ, are personal matters between the 
individual and his Saviour, and must be the acts of a 
voluntary being. Therefore, God has given to 
every person the right to search the Scriptures, and 
interpret them for himself. The liberty granted to 
every man to think for himself, or the right of pri- 
vate judgment in the investigation of God's word, 
does not give him the right to follow his own fan- 
cies and predilections, to speculate and diverge from 
its teachings, to disobey or doubt it, but to under- 
stand its facts and truths, as they are revealed, that 
he may honestly and intelligently follow them in 
obedience. By what shadow of authority can any 
man, or class of men, presume to step between the 


personal investigations of a man and the Bible, to 
interpret it for him. No mortal man has any right 
to settle the religions opinions of other persons, or 
determine their church relations. Neither the civil 
magistrate, nor the State, has an}; right to prescribe 
a form of religion for the people, or to punish them 
for not following the forms so prescribed. The Bap- 
tists have ever denied the right of a, State to establish 
the church by law, and opposed all acts of religious 
conformity as iniquitous and oppressive, which in- 
terfere with the free. exercise of a man's religion, be 
it what it may. So far as civil law is concerned, if a 
man chooses, he bus a right to be a Pagan, a Moham- 
medan, or an Infidel. They regard all church es- 
tablishments— the union of Church and State — as 
radically wrong- in principle ; and all forms of per- 
secution — the legitimate results of such unholy al- 
alliances — as wicked. All State and National 
Churches are utterly inconsistent with the genius of 
Christianity, and the declaration of the Saviour him- 
self, who said, "My kingdom is not of this world." 
That soul liberty which we now enjoy, the Bap- 
tists obtained at a great price — the dungeon, the 
rack, the stake and the gibbet. The time was when 
this distinguishing principle of Baptist belief — the 
entire separation of the State from religious opin- 
ions and practice — was practically unknown in 
every colony in North America except Rhode 
Island, Here soul-liherty tvas guaranteed by law s 


and enjo} 7 ed by every one, to its fullest extent. 
But now it is one of the great foundation laws of 
every State in our National Union, which secures to 
every individual the right of religious freedom — 
and have not the Baptists just claims as pioneers in 
this great reform in civil government? 

History abundantly proves that the Baptists have 
in every age been the advocates and firm support- 
ers of religious liberty. When the Emperor Con- 
stans, in 348, sent commissioners to the Danatists 
(who were doubtless Bapt'sts,) to conciliate them 
and induce them if possible to return to the estab- 
lished church, they replied, " What has the Empe« 
ror to do with the church?" 

God alone is the great arbiter of conscience, hav- 
ing given to no created being, be he prince or po- 
tentate, any authority to say "what religious faith a 
man must profess. 

John Locke said, "The Baptists were from the 
beginning the firm advocates of absolute liberty — • 
just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty." 

James Mcintosh, Jeremy Taylor, and other dis- 
tinguished writers, speak of the Baptists in similar 
terms. Washington the statesman, Story the jurist, 
and Bancroft the historian, all award to the Baptists 
marked distinction as the strong defenders of soul- 
liberty. In the mighty struggle for religious free- 
dom, the Baptists not only stood single handed and 
alone, but in opposition to all other religious sects, 


The great battle for soul-liberty was fought on the 
American shores, and in it they suffered, bled and 
died. The glorious victory was achieved, and soul- 
liberty acknowledged as the birthright of every hu- 
man being. At this day all evangelical denomina- 
tions embrace this peculiar Baptist principle. 

It has been asserted "that the reason why the 
Baptists were such firm advocates for soul-liberty, 
was the smallness of their number, and the little so- 
cial and political influence which they ever posses- 
sed, and that if they had held the power they would 
have been as intolerant and as persecuting as those 
by whom they were persecuted ; in a word, the rea- 
son they did not persecute for conscience' sake was 
they did not have the power." 

This view is false, and utterly inconsistent with 
their principles. It arises from ignorance. The 
Baptists cannot persecute for conscience' sake with- 
out renouncing some of their peculiar and founda- 
tion principles, and the moment that is done they 
at once cease to be Baptists. Immersion alone does 
not make any one a Baptist, but the reception and 
support of those great, vital and distinguishing 
principles above mentioned are necessary to con- 
stitute a man a true Baptist. The writer does not 
intend to say that the Baptists are and have always 
been personally too good to be intolerant, but that 
the principles of personal liberty and opposition to 
all union of Church and State, which thev have held 


from time immemorial, make it impossible that 
they should persecute. 

I will notice a few facts to show that the Baptists 
have adhered practically to their avowed principles. 
Rhode Island was colonized by Baptists, and had its 
government in their own hands. They incorporated 
themselves a body politic, in 1G3S, and bound them- 
selves together by moral and religious principles. 
Were they intolerant? Did they ever persecute 
anybody for conscience' sake? On the contrary, 
freedom in religious opinions and practices, was, in 
its fullest extent, ever guaranteed to every citizen. 
The Baptists have uniformly rejected State patron- 
age, and even such favors that had a tendency to- 
wards the least connection between Church and 

The King of Holland did at one time offer to the 
Baptists State patronage, and. support, but they 
promptly declined having any alliance whatever 
with the government. They kindly but firmly re- 
jected the overture. 

In Georgia, in 1785, the Legislature passed a law 
for the establishment and support of religion, em- 
bracing* all denominations. The Baptists were more 
numerous than any other in the State, and of course 
Baptist ministers might have shared largely in the 
appropriations, and lived handsomely on the public 
treasury, but the Baptists earnestly remonstrated 
against it, and the same vear sent messengers to the 


Legislature to urge its repeal, and the law was 
without delay repealed. 

One other remark, in the language of another, 
respecting the origin of the name Baptists : (<r It has 
been asserted that the Baptists originated in Ger- 
many about the year 1522, at the beginning of the 
Reformation. It is true that no denomination of 
Protestants can trace the origin of its present name 
farther back than about the time of the Reforma- 
tion .; and the most of them have originated since 
that period. And it appears to be true that the 
name of Baptists, by which this people have since 
been known, was then first assumed, probably in op- 
position to that of Anabaptists, with which their 
enemies were constantly reproaching them. It is 
not, however, the history of a name, but the preva- 
lence of principles, which is the just object of atten- 
tion with the student of ecclesiastical history. The 
Baptists do not pretend that the primitive saints 
were called Baptists, but that all the primitive 
Christians were what would now be called by this 
name; and there always has been a people on earth 
from the introduction of Christianity, who have held 
the leading sentiments by which they now are, and 
always have been, distinguished, is a point which 
they most firmly believe, and undertake to prove." 
Eney. lielig. Knowl., page 188. 



The Church Covenant. 

(Supposed to have been written by Elder Shubael Stearns, about 1757.) 

Holding believers' baptism; the laying on of hands; 
particular election of grace by the predestination of 
God in Christ; effectual calling by the Holy Ghost; 
free justification through the imputed righteousness 
of Christ; progressive sanctification through God's 
grace and truth ; the final perseverance, or continu- 
ance of the saints in grace ; the resurrection of these 
bodies after death, at that day which God has ap- 
pointed to judge the quick and dead by Jesus Christ, 
by the power of God, and by the resurrection of 
Christ; and life everlasting. Amen. 

1st. We do, as in the presence of the great and 
everlasting God, who knows the secrets of all hearts 
and in the presence of angels and men, acknowledge 
ourselves to be under the most solemn covenant 
with the Lord, to live for him and no other. We 
take the only living and true God to be our God, 
one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy, 

2d. We receive the Holy Scriptures of the Old 
and New Testament to be the revealed mind and 
will of God, believing them to contain a perfect rule 
for our faith and practice, and promise through the 


assistance of the Holy Spirit, to make them the rule 
of our life and practice, in all church discipline, 
acknowledging ourselves by nature children of 
wrath, and our hope of mercy with God, to be only 
through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, appre- 
hended by faith. 

3dly. We do promise to bear with one another's 
infirmities and weaknesses, with much tenderness, 
not discovering them to any in the church, but by 
gospel rule and order, which is laid down in Matthew 
18 : 15, 16, 17. 

4th. We do believe that God has ordained that 
they who preach the gospel shall live of the gospel ; 
and we call heaven and earth to witness that we 
without the least reserve, give up ourselves, through 
the help and aiding grace of God's Spirit, our souls 
and bodies and all that we have to this one God, to 
be entirely at his disposal, both ourselves, our names 
and estates, as God shall see best for his own glory ; 
and that we will faithfully do, by the help of God's - 
Spirit, whatsoever our consciences, influenced by 
the word and Spirit of God, shall direct to be our 
duty, both to God and man; and we do, by the as- 
sistance of Divine grace, unitedly give up ourselves 
to one another in covenant, promising by the grace 
of God to act towards one another as brethren in 
Christ, watching over one another in the love of 
God, especially to watch against all jesting, light 
and foolish talking which arc not convenient, (Eph. 


6: 4) — everything that does not become the follow- 
ers of the holy Lamb of God ; and that we will seek 
the good of each other,. and the church universally, 
for God's glory ; and hold communion together in 
the worship of God, in the ordinances and discipline 
of this church of God, according to Christ's visible 
kingdom, so far as the providence of God admits of 
the same: "Not forsaking the assembling of our- 
selves together, as the manner of some is," but sub- 
mitting ourselves unto the discipline of the church, 
as a part of Christ's mystical body, according as we 
shall be guided b}'' the word and Spirit of God, and 
by the help of Divine grace, still looking for more 
light from God, as contained in the Holy Scriptures, 
believing that there are greater mysteries to be un- 
folded and shine in the church, beyond what she 
has ever enjoyed : looking and waiting for the glo- 
rious day when the Lord Jesus shall take to himself 
liis great power, and "have dominion also from sea 
to sea, and from the river unco the ends of the 

This Covenant we make with full and free con- 
sent of our minds, believing that through free and 
boundless grace, it is owned of God and ratified in 
heaven, before the throne of God and the Lamb. 
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen, and 


Rules of Decorum, 

(Prepared by Elder Thomas Vass, and adopted by the church, 
January, 1796.) 

We, the Baptist Church of Christ at Grassy Creek, 
being convinced that there is a necessity for meet- 
ing together at least once a month for the purpose 
of keeping up gospel order amongst us, agree to 
meet on Saturday before the fourth Sunday in each 
month for that purpose ; and as such meetings, as 
well as all others, ought to be conducted in the fear 
of God, it is thought proper that some rules should 
be adopted, to which strict attention should be 
given : 

Art. 1st. We agree that there shall be a Modera- 
tor chosen for the purpose of keeping good order, 
and to conduct the business that may come before 
the conference. 

Art. 2d. That it is the indispensable duty of 
every member, especiall} 7 the males, to give due at- 
tendance at the said meetings, except prevented by 
the weather, sickness, or some extraordinary busi- 
ness, that cannot be done before or after. The mem- 
ber who fails to attend is to assign his reason for 
his failure at the next church meeting, and if the 
church thinks the reason is sufficient, the brother 
will take his seat ; but if not : for the first time, he is 
to be admonished by the moderator, for the second 
to receive a public reproof, and for the third time, 


(without sufficient reasons), is to bo looked upon as 
a disorderly member, and dealt with as such, and if 
he cannot be reclaimed, is to be put away from 
among us. 

Art. 3d. That we will determine all matters 
which may come before us by a majority of the 
church, and the minority peaceably submitting. 

Art. 4. That it is the duty of all the members 
present, both male and female, to take their seats in 
order, to hear and do the business that ma} 7 come 
before us, and being seated, should not leave with- 
out some urgent necessity, until the meeting is 

Art. 5th. That while we are sitting together to 
do business, no member is to be whispering, read- 
ing books, or papers; but all should duly attend to 
what may be said, that each one may be ready to 
offer light, or give the necessary instruction upon 
the subject under consideration, for mutual edifica- 
tion and comfort, so that all things may be done 
decently and in order. 

Art. 6th. That a member, having anything to 
communicate to the church, must arise from his 
seat, and while speaking is not to be interrupted by 
any other member. 

Art. 7th. That no member shall leave the meet- 
ing to go home or elsewhere, without obtaining 
leave from the church, under the penalty of being 
reproved for so doing. 


Art. 8th. That the meetings of the church shall 
be opened and closed with solemn prayer to GodJ 
for the divine blessing upon our feeble efforts to 
promote his cause, by the Moderator or some other 
brother invited by him to discharge that duty. 

Art. 9th. We agree that no member shall speak; 
more than twice on the same subject without per- 
mission from the church. 

Art. 10th. That these rules are to be lodged in 
the hands of our Clerk, with the other papers of the 
church, which he shall bring with him to our reg- 
ular meetings, in order to be read whenever re- 




The origin of Grassy Creek Baptist 

Church, with some interesting 

Incidents connected with its 

Early History. 

Some of the first permanent settlements effected 
in Granville county, North Carolina, were along the 
Northern border on Grassy Creek, near the Virginia 
line. It appears that a considerable number of the 
early colonists in this region were Baptists, or Bap- 
tists in sentiment. They soon began to hold meet- 
ings and at length built a house [a large frame 
building] for divine worship, and named it Grassy 
Creek, after the water course— a tributary of the 
Roanoke River— on which it was located. The 
Meeting House is situated in the northern part of 
Granville, sixteen miles from Oxford, the county 
seat, and some two miles from the line of Meck- 
lenburg county in Virginia. 

As to the exact date when this church began to 
be founded, I have not been able to learn, but 
it must have been at least as early as 1754. 
After diligent enquiry by the best information 
which I have been able to obtain ,( there was doubt- 
' less a Baptist meeting-house on Grassy Creek in 
1755. It is stated as one of the undisputed facts in 


history that Rev. Hugh McAden, a Presbyterian 
minister, did, on his way south, "preach at the 
Baptist church at Grassy Creek on 14th of August, 
in 1755." Although the Baptists at that time pos- 
sessed a house for religious worship, yet it does not 
appear that the church had been regularly consti- 
tuted. The records of the church, previous to Oc- 
tober, 1769, cannot be found."' Who were its con- 
stituent members, or who was its first clerk, I have 
not been able to learn. (The date of its organiza- 
tion, as given by Benedict and other Baptist histo- 
rians, is in 1762-65. They are doubtless mistaken 
about it, having been led into error by their corres- 
pondents, who fixed the date by mere conjecture, 
without investigation. While it is true that in the 
absence of the records of the church in its first 
movements, the precise period of its regular con- 
stitution must remain a matter of conjecture, still, 
from the facts gathered up, and by construction, it 
can be approximated. 

' About 1754 a small company of Baptists, with 
Elder Shubael Stearns at their head, set out from 
New England on a Southern excursion to proclaim 
the glad tidings of salvation in portions of our 
country, which were more destitute of the preached 
gospel. These Baptist pioneers in their benevolent 
enterprise, with hearts burning with zeal for the 
glory of God and the salvation of sinners, at one 
time halt to nreach the o-opnel of the ki p °dom and 


plant the standard of the cross, and at another time 
push forward to regions beyond, both increasing 
and diminishing their number at every stage of 
their sojourn, until the long line of travel termi= 
nated in 1771, in the settlement of Elder Daniel 
Marshall, with other Baptist emigrants, on the Kio- 
kee, a frontier region of Georgia. All along their 
course they preached the blessed gospel of Jesus, 
and promulgated Baptist faith and practice. They 
planted churches of Christ, and then left a part of 
their company as preachers or exhorters to carry 
forward the Master's' work. Elder Stearns perma- 
nently settled on Sandy Creek in Guilford (now 
Randolph) county, North Carolina, in 1755. I 
think it more than probable that this company of 
Baptist pioneers, or a part of them, passed through 
this very section on their way south , som etime in 
1754, and paused for a while to raise the Redeemer's 

standard and propagate the glorious gospel of the 
blessed God, 

(It is evident that Rev. Daniel Marshall, the coad* ; 
jutor of Elder Stearns, who came into North Caro- 
lina with him, visited this section of the country 
very soon after his arrival, and labored efficiently 
and zealously for the upbuilding of Zion and the 
conversion of souls. His preaching at this place 
(Grassy Creek) was crowned with a large measure of 
success. Large and attentive congregations waited 
upon his ministrations, and many were converted to 


God through his instrumentality, and among the 
number was James Reed, a man of considerable 
gifts, but very illiterate, who at once began to ex- 
hort the people to flee from the wrath to come, and 
shortly afterwards entered the ministry, and became 
the first pastor of this church. 

At what precise period Mr. Marshall made his 
first visit to the Grass}' Creek section cannot now 
be determined, but he was, without question, here 
on a preaching tour in 1756. ) Elder Stearns trav- 
eled extensively in Virginia and North Carolina 
after he settled at Bandy Creek, and he, doubtless, 
visited this community which was then an inviting | 
field for evangelical labors, in his preaching excur- 
sions after he came into this colony. 

I cannot, ascertain with any degree of certainty 
that lie was at Grassy Creek earlier than 1757, when 
he visited the church and explained to the brethren 
his plan of forming an Association. He showed 
them its necessity for extending the interests of the 
Redeemer's kingdom, and urged the importance of 
sending messengers to Sandy Creek meeting house 
in January, 1758, for the purpose of organizing a 
Baptist Association. The delegates were appointed 
according to his request, and the Association was 
organized at the time designated. 

Elder James Reed, who was baptized about the 
year 1756, by Elder Stearns, and ordained to the 
ministry probably in 1757, was a delegate from 


Grassy Creek to the first meeting of the Saudy Creek 
Association in 1758. ) He says in a manuscript which 
he left: "At our first Association we continued to- 
gether three or four days ; great crowds of people 
attended, mostly through curiosity. The great 
power of God was among us ; the preaching every 
day seemed to bo attended with God's blessing. We 
carried on our Association with sweet decorum and 
fellowship to the end. Then we took our leave of 
one another with many solemn charges from our 
'reverend old father, Shubael Stearns, to stand fast 
unto the end." 

From the foregoing facts and considerations^! 
have arrived at the conclusion that Grassy Creek 
Baptist Church was regularly constituted sometime 
between 1755 and 1758, probably in 1757, by Elders 
Shubael Stearns and Daniel Marshall, 

This church continued in connection with the 
Sandy Creek Association till 1770 — a space of twelve 
years — when it was, by mutual consent, divided. 
This wide-spread community frequently held its 
annual sessions with tins church. 

The church, very soon after it was founded, be- 
came a strong and flourishing body, having a good 
house of worship for that day, with a large member- 
ship, many of whom possessed considerable wealth 
and occupied a high social position. At this early 
date the members were much scattered over the 
country, both in Virginia and North. Carolina— « 


some living fifty miles or more from the location of 
the church. 

It was for many years the seat of operations for 
the denomination in this res-ion. It was the centre 
of a radius extending forty miles or more in almost 
every direction. It spread out its arms or branches* 
on every side, which rapidly matured into churches, 
and Grassy Creek soon became the mother of many 

Most of our ministers in those early times were 
very deficient on the score of education, but they 
were full of zeal, energy, enterprise, and persever- 
ance. With ardent piety and firm faith in God, 
they went forth proclaiming the gospel, exposed as 
they were to great hardships and privations, and 
for the most part, without fee or reward, except a 
good conscience and the Divine blessing. Their 
labors, however, were abundant and successful. 

The early Baptist churches made but little pro- 
vision for the support of their pastors. The preach- 
ers themselves were much to blame in the matter, 
In denouncing church establishments as wrong, and 
the clergy that was supported by taxation as mere 
hirelings, for the want of correct discrimination, they 
unwittingly inculcated unscriptural views upon the 
subject of ministerial support, and some went even 

*A branch is a company of the members that hold meetings 
elsewhere, but are not regularly organized into a church, 


so far as to refuse receiving anything for preaching 
the gospel, choosing to support themselves andtehir 
families the best they could by secular engagements.") 
In avoiding one extreme they fell into another. They 
not only injured themselves and impaired their use- 
fulness in declining to receive the "reward" to which 
the Saviour said the workman is justly entitled, but 
they inflicted much injury upon the churches by 
encouraging the spirit of selfishness, which muzzles 
the ox that treads out the corn. 

For a period of a century and a quarter, notwith- 
standing so many churches have been either wholly 
or partly formed out of this one, and the civil com- 
motions, the calamities of several wars and the va- 
rious other vicissitudes through which it has passed, 
still under the blessing of God it has maintained 
up to the present a large membership, who have 
been faithful to the truth, and contended earnestly 
for the faith once delivered to the saints. This 
church, as a place for public worship from its early 
history, has been particularly noted for the large 
congregations that attend upon its meetings. 

Rev. Samuel Harris, usually called Col. Harris, a 
man of wealth, ability and high social position, who 
resided in Pittsylvania county, Virginia, not far 
from the head of Birch Creek (commonly called 
Kentuck) Baptist meeting-house, some sixty miles 
from this place, (Grassy Creek) entered the minis- 
try in 1759, but owing to some peculiar views which 


he entertained respecting ordination, be refused to 
be set apart to the ministerial office till 1769. In 
1765, Mr. Harris went down into Orange and Spott- 
sylvania counties, Virginia, on a preaching excur- 
sion. His labors were greatly blessed an awakening 
attention to the subject of religion, and in leading 
precious souls to Christ. " He continued many 
days, preaching from place to place, attended by 
great crowds, and followed throughout his meetings 
by several persons who had been either lately con- 
verted, or seriously awakened under the ministry 
of others, and also by many who had been alarmed 
by his own labors. 

When Mr. Harris left them he advised some in 
whom he discovered talents to commence the exer- 
cise of their gifts, and to bold meetings among 
themselves. They took his advice and began to 
hold meetings every Sabbath, and almost every 
night in the week, taking a tobacco house for their- 
meeting house. Alter proceeding in this way for 
some time, they resolved to send for Mr. Harris, in 
order to procure his services, to preach and baptize 
new converts. Sometime in the year 1766, Elijah 
Craig and two others traveled to Mr. Harris' house, 
but they found to their surprise that he had not 
been ordained to the administration of the ordi- 
nances. To remedy this inconvenience, he carried 
them about sixty miles into North Carolina to Elder 


James Reed, by whom he (Mr. Craig) was ordained." 
(See Benedict's Hist, of the Baptists, p. 648.) 

From the best information that I have been able 
to obtain in regard to this affair, referred to above, 
it appears that Mr. Harris conducted this party that 
came from Spotts} r lvania county, Virginia, to Grassy 
Creek, where they were received by experience and 
baptism into the fellowship of the church. Mr. 
Craig, one of the party, had, from the time of his 
conversion, although unbaptized and without church 
relations, been exercising his gifts in exhortation, 
and in proclaiming to his fellow men the glad tid- 
ings of salvation. He was not only baptized, but 
was also, at the same time, by the authority of this 
church, solemnly and publicly set apart to the full 
work of the gospel ministry, by Elders James Reed 
and (supposed to be) Button Lane. Mr. Reed, the 
pastor of this church, and some of its members with 
Mr. Harris, by urgent solicitations, accompanied 
these brethren back, to receive and baptize converts, 
and establish a branch of this church in Spottsyl- 
vania county, A T a. By the way, two of the most 
prominent and influential members of this church 
at that time were brothers of Col. Harris — Richard 
and Charles Harris. The former was an elder or 
deacon, and the latter its clerk for many years; — 
and as they were men of means and standing, it is 
probable that one or both of them were in the dele- 
gation. And after making the necessary prepara- 


tions, they set out on their journey of nearly two 
hundred miles. Accordingly, in due time, they 
reached the place of destination, and commenced 
their labors with remarkable success, Elder Reed 
baptized nineteen on the first day of his arrival, and 
more on the days following. Prosperity smiled upon 
them, and God so abundantly blessed their efforts in 
building up the Redeemer's cause, that on the 20th 
of November, 1767, the brethren in Spottsylvania 
were regularly constituted into a Baptist church, 
which was called Upper Spottsylvania, but now 
Craig's church, which has stood until the present 
time, and has become the mother of many churches. 
Mr. Craig became a zealous and useful minister 
of the gospel. The Lord attended his efforts to ex- 
tend the kingdom of Christ with his blessing, and 
made him instrumental in the conversion of many 
souls. During his ministry he was called upon to 
suffer persecution for Christ's sake. At one time he 
was confined in Culpepper jail for preaching the 
gospel, and at another in Orange jail for the same 
offence. Besides fines and imprisonment, he suffer- 
ed as a minister of reconciliation many other hard- 
ships and privations. Mr. Craig was a man of con- 
siderable talent, a good preacher in his day, and a 
successful pastor. He removed to Kentucky in 
1786, where he finished his work in 1808 and fell 
asleep. The following anecdote has often been told 
on Mr. Craig: He was once arrested as a disturber 


of the peace : that is, for preaching the gospel, and 
carried before three magistrates, who would not hear 
any arguments for or against him but at once or- 
dered him to jail. He said to the officer whose 
duty it was to conduct him to prison, "Elijah Craig 
will have no hand in putting Elijah Craig to jail — ■ 
if you want him there you have got to put him 
there," Accordingly he voluntarily became helpless, 
and fell to the ground, and of course the officer was 
compelled to cany him to prison without Elijah 
Craig's assistance. 

At this earl}'- date, Grassy Creek Church belonged 
to that party of Baptists who were denominated 
Separate Baptists, which cognomen originated in 
New England. 

About the year 1740, a powerful revival of reli- 
gion commenced in New England, under the labors 
of the celebrated Whitfield and other ministers of 
the gospel, such as had never before been witnessed 
in this country. It met with much opposition and 
obloquy, and was opprobiously called the "New 
Light Stir " The efficient agents in this great 
awakening, their adherents and sympathizers, as 
well as the converts, were denominated "New Lights," 
but afterwards they received the appellation of 
"Separates," without any reference to denomina- 
tional distinctions ; and, as a very large proportion 
of the subjects of this wide-spread revival became 
Baptists, this sobriquet [nick-name] was for many 


years afterwards attached to a large number of New- 
England Baptists and their descendants ; and as 
the Baptists of middle and upland North Carolina 
descended from New England Baptists, they were 
known in early times by the name of Separates. 
All of these were for a considerable period embraced 
in the Sandy Creek Association. At this time, all 
the Baptists in the northeastern portion of North 
Carolina were called Regular Baptists, and were 
comprehended in the Kehukee Association. All 
the Baptists in the province were included in the two 
Associations— Sand) 7 ' Creek and Kehukee. The 
members of the former 'are doubtless able to trace 
their pedigree from the Welsh Baptists, through 
New England; and the latter, very justly, claim 
their descent mostly through Virginia, from the 
same source. I think it could be shown, if it were 
necessary, from authentic history, that the Baptists 
of North Carolina received their ordinances from the 
Welsh Baptists, who claim a history that runs back 
to the first century of the Christian era. 

For many years the Baptists were divided by these 
party names — Separates and Regulars — but after the 
churches in the eastern portion of the colony called 
Regulars, which had fallen into loose practices in 
church order and discipline, were reformed and re- 
modeled to the true Baptist standard by the labors 
of Elders Robert Williams, John Gano, Peter P. 
Vanhorn, Benjamin Miller and others, they difiere*] 


from the Separates only in some small matters. 
There was but little difference in their views of doc- 
trine and church order. The leading sentiments of 
both parties were Calvinistic. The principal objec- 
tion of the Separates to union with the Regulars, 
was that some of their churches retained members 
in fellowship who were baptized before their con- 
version. On the other hand, the Regulars com- 
plained that the Separates were not sufficiently ex- 
plicit in their principles, having never published or 
sanctioned any Confession of Faith. While this 
was true, still they claimed that as a Christian com- 
munity they believed in the doctrines set forth by 
the Baptist Confession of Faith as truly as did the 
other party, but they did not approve of a church 
binding itself too strictly by a Confession of Faith, 
because it was liable to abuse, and thereby usurp too 
much authors-over the conscience and endanger 
Christian liberty; and besides, they held that the 
Scriptures were a sufficient guide in all matters of 
religious faith and practice. The ministers of both 
parties met together in religious meetings and uni- 
ted in their efforts to build up the Redeemer's king- 
dom. Thus co-operating and interchanging views 
awakened an earnest desire to remove every cause 
of separation and become more closely united as 
brethren in Christ. They discussed in a friendly 
manner the points of difference between them, which 
caused them to lay aside all their prejudices, and 


compromise all their disputes ; and, at length, the 
union of the two parties was happily effected ; the 
party names by which they had been distinguished 
were dismissed and forever buried ; and all the Bap- 
tists in North Carolina were afterwards known by 
the name of "Regular Baptists." 

This church, in its commencement, entertained 
some peculiar sentiments which do not prevail at 
the present time. They believed that the laying on 
of hands should follow every case of baptism ; but it 
seems that it was never observed as a rite that oc- 
cupied a place so distinct in church economy as to 
make it necessary to constitute a true profession of 
Christianity; and therefore they did not make it a 
test of fellowship. In a few years they became sat' 
isfied that it was without divine warrant, and was 
accordingly laid aside as unauthorized by the New 

The practice of the imposition of hands came into 
existence from mistaken views of such passages of 
Scripture as speak of the laying on of hands as a 
sjmibolic act that was used when a person was pub- 
licly set apart to some office, (Acts 6; 6,) or as the 
appointed sign by which the miraculous influences 
of the Holy Spirit were imparted in Apostolic times, 
(Acts 8 : 17,) or in setting apart the sin-offerings 
under the Mosaic dispensation, (Heb. 6 : 2.) In 
Hebrews, 6 : 1,2, the Apostle Paul speaks of the 
rudiments or first principles of the doctrine of Christ 


as having been taught in the old dispensation by 

its rites and ceremonies. In the second verse he 
refers to the "'laying on of hands." Remember the 
phrase, " not laying again the foundation," is un- 
derstood before it. and by supplying the ellipsis, the 
passage reads thus: "not laying again the founda- 
tion of the laying on of hands." 
■ It is evident that this passage does not refer to 
the imposition of hands, either in setting apart a 
person to office, or in conferring the extraordinary 
gifts of the Holy Spirit, or to that of confirmation ; 
for in neither case is there any doctrine taught by 
the act. But it is very clear that it alludes to what 
took place under the Old Testament dispensation. 
The laying on of the hands of the priests and of the 
people on their sacrifices which distinctly prefigured 
the imputation of sin to Christ, the great anti-type 
in every sin-offering. The Jews were accustomed 
to call this act the laying on of hands. The doctrine 
taught by this act, as one of the introductory ele- 
ments of Christianity, was the imputation of sin to 
Christ as the sinner's substitute. The Apostle was 
addressing Hebrews, who very well understood what 
he was writing about. He was instructing them as 
believers in Christ, that they should not go back to 
learn by this type of the old dispensation the first 
principles of this important doctrine in the Chris- 
tian system, since Jesus, the Messiah, had come as 


the true sin-offering, and bore our sins in his own 
body on the cross. 

As to the feet-washing ceremony, it seems that it 
was observed to some extent, not, however, as a 
church ordinance, but only as a social ordinance in 
their individual capacity. As strict construction- 
ists, they endeavored to follow out literally all the 
commands of the Master. The rite was founded on 
the injunction of Christ to his disciples, (John 13: 
14) : " ye ought also to wash one another's feet." 
But the practice soon fell into disuse, and feet-wash- 
ing, as a religious ceremony, for many long years 
has been numbered among the things of "the past. 

In ancient times, the people of Palestine generally 
traveled bare-footed, or wore sandals — soles tied to 
the feet with strings — which did not protect them 
from dust and mud, so that when any person came 
from a journey it was customary to wash his feet 
as an act of kindness and hospitality. This service 
w r as usually performed by menials — servants of the 
lowest order. Our blessed Saviour, in washing his 
disciples feet, intended, doubtless, to teach us by 
his holy example, our duty to perform the humblest 
services for one another as brethren in Christ Jesus. 
The command is, at the present day, generally un- 
derstood to mean that Christians should possess that 
humility which would lead them to perform the 
lowest act of kindness to the very least of the saints, 
if it were necessary for his comfort and happiness, 


and not simply and literally washing each other's 
feet, when there is no need of performing such an 
act, which seems to partake somewhat of the nature 
of " a voluntary humility." Christians should im- 
bibe the spirit of Christ, and imitate his example in 
humility, in deeds of love and kindness, in order to 
promote the welfare of his followers. 

This church, besides the office of the deaconship, 
retained for many years that also of lay-elders. They 
were not ruling elders in the Presbyterian sense of 
that term ; for they did not exercise any more au- 
thority in its government than any other member. 
It appears that the church has always been govern- 
ed upon purely democratic principles. The elders 
aided the pastor in the discipline of the church, and 
attended to such other matters as are usually as- 
signed to the deacons. They were held to be just 
about the same in office ; the difference seems to have 
been more in names than in anything else. 

The principal authority for ruling elders in the 
church is claimed to be found in Rom. 12: 8; I 
Cor. 12: 28, and I Tim. 5 : 17. 

The phrase (Rom. 12: 8,) "He that ruleth (let 
him do it) with diligence," does not point out any 
particular office, but evidently refers to certain en- 
dowments which God bestows upon individual 
christians, and which qualify them to be guides and 
leaders among the brethren. In the passage which, 
contains the phrase, the Apostle was speaking of 


the various gifts which God by his grace imparted 
to different persons for the edification of the church, 
that each one should be satisfied in his place and 
with his work, and endeavor to improve his talents, 
whatever they might be, for the advancement of 
Christ's Kingdom in the world. There is no proof 
that the Apostle in the phrase, "he that ruleth," 
(ho proistamenos — literally, he that presides) meant 
the office of lay or ruling elders. 

The word "governments" (I Cor. xii:28 — Gr. Ku- 
berneseis) is thought to designate the office of ruling 
elders, but it would seem that nothing more can be 
made out of this word than a reference to a class of 
Christian men, found in almost every church, who 
are qualified by wisdom and grace to guide, as pilots, 
the people of God, not as officers invested with au- 
thority to rule the church of Christ, but simply as 
members possessed of piety and prudence. 

The passage, (found in I Tim. v: 17) "Let the el- 
ders that rule (preside) well be counted worthy of 
double honor, especially those who labor in the word 
and doctrine," is appealed to with much confidence 
as affording scriptural authority for the office of 
ruling elders, as distinct from that of preaching el- 
ders. But an observation or two will be deemed 
sufficient to show that it does not really give any 
warrant for such an office in the church. The most 
that can be claimed from the passage under consid- 
eration seems to be onlv an inference which has no 


foundation in fact; for an inference, to be legiti- 
mate, must have for its base an established fact. 
The divine institution of such persons as lay or rul- 
ing elders in the church of Christ cannot be found 
in the Holy Scriptures. According to the New Tes- 
tament there are only two classes of officers in the 
Christian church — elders, pastors or bishops, and 
deacons. The word (Gr. prosstotes) translated rule, 
literally means preside, and very clearly points out 
the official character of the pastor, who presides not 
as a ruler but as a shepherd to watch over and guide 
the flock committed to his charge. The phrase 
double honor refers not so much to that affection and 
esteem which are due to ministers of the gospel as 
it does to their proper maintenance. The} 7 who la- 
bor in word and doctrine are justly entitled to a lib- 
eral and comfortable support, especially those who 
are entirely consecrated to the pastoral work. All 
the elders that rule well should be counted worthy 
of "double honor"; that is, a competent support. 
But who ever heard that lay or ruling elders claim- 
ed or received a maintenance from a church as its 
officers. That ministerial support was chiefly re- 
ferred to by the phrase " double honor," the 18th 
verse, which follows the one under consideration, 
puts beyond question : " Thou shalt not muzzle the 
ox that treadeth out the corn." And, " s the laborer is 
worthy of his reward." 

It is an observable fact that about this time there 


were many instances of individuals in various parts 
of the country who had never heard Baptist preach- 
ing, but who, having been awakened by divine 
grace, or recently converted, came to the conclusion 
from reading the Scriptures, and from what they 
had heard of the Baptists, that they held the true 
doctrine, and practiced the ordinances in their orig- 
inal simplicity, and being so anxious to know more 
about them, they would travel from one to two hun- 
dred miles to attend their meetings, to learn the way 
of the Lord more perfectly. Take the following as 
an example: About the year 1770 there lived in 
Albemarle county, Va., a young man who, after 
much painful anxiety, was brought to a knowledge 
of the truth as it is in Jesus; and having examined 
the New Testament he saw the duty of believers' 
baptism, and having heard of the Baptists who prac- 
ticed it, he felt desirous of becoming intimately ac- 
quainted with that denomination ; and hearing of 
sCn. Association to be held at Grassy Creek Meeting- 
house, determined to attend, although it was nearly 
two hundred miles from his residence. Having at- 
tended that meeting, and ascertained more accu- 
rately the doctrines and practices of the Baptists^ 
and believing them to be in accordance with the 
word of God, regardless of the frowns and persecu- 
tions of a wicked world, he was baptized upon a pro- 
fession of his faith in Christ, and went on his way 



rejoicing. He became an eminent minister of the 
gospel, known as Elder Benjamin Burgher. 

It may not be out of place to observe what revi- 
val measures were then employed, and how such 
meetings were conducted. At the close of his ser- 
mon, the minister would come down from the pul- 
pit and while singing a suitable hymn would go 
around among the brethren shakings hands. The 
hymn being sung, he would then extend an invita- 
tion to such persons as felt themselves to be poor 
guilty sinners, and were anxiously enquiring the 
way of salvation, to come forward and kneel near 
the stand, or, if they preferred to do so, they could 
kneel at their seats, proffering to unite with them 
in prayer for their conversion. After prayer, sing- 
ing and exhortation, prolonged according to cir- 
cumstances, the congregation would be dismissed to 
meet again at night at the meetinghouse or at some 
private residence, either for preaching or in the ca- 
pacity of a prayer-meeting. They held afternoon 
or night meetings during the week, or several nights 
during the week. In these night meetings there 
would occasionally be preaching, but generally they 
w T ere only for prayer, praise and exhortation, and 
direct personal conversation with those who might 
be concerned about their soul's salvation. In sea- 
sons of religious awakening, large crowds would at- 
tend these meetings, which were blessed in the con- 
version of many souls. It was not uncommon for 


the brethren, and especially the sisters, to give ex- 
pression to their feelings in outbursts of joy and 
praise ; but it appears that they were free from those 
wild and fantastic exercises which prevailed in 
many other places. It seems that protracted meet- 
ings as now held, and what is termed the anxious 
scat system, did not come into use at Grassy Creek 
till about 1825 or '30. I would remark in passing, 
that after a careful examination of the church re- 
cords running back more than a hundred and ten 
years, and from an intimate relation with it as pas- 
tor for nearly thirty, I am convinced that as large a 
proportion of the converts, that have united with 
the ckurch under the present revival measures, 
which have been practiced for more than fifty years, 
are as consistent church-members and as faithful in 
maintaining an exemplary Christian character, as 
those did before the anxious seat system was em- 
ployed. The anxious seat, like everything else that 
is good, is liable to abuse, but that is not a sufficient 
reason why its prudent use should be abandoned. 

While the manner of conducting revival meetings 
then differed, in some respects, from that of the pres- 
ent day, yet then, as now, in effect it was the same. 
They were called big or great meetings, which are 
but other names for protracted meetings. An entry 
is found on the church records, showing that "a 
great meeting commenced on the 23d of July, 1775," 
— the year before the Revolution — which resulted 
in adding 18 members to the church by baptism. 



History of Grassy Creek Baptist Church, 

derived from the Church Book, 

with remarks by the 


I have not been able to find any record of its 
proceedings from its organization to 1769. 

In 1770, Charles Harris, who had been acting as 
church clerk for several months previous, was elect- 
ed to that position, which he held for more than 
twenty years. From which I infer that the first 
clerk of the church had either died or emigrated, 
and by whom its earliest records were lost. 

At this date, Elder James Reed was the pastor, 
Richard Harris, William Graves and Thomas Bar- 
nett were the deacons, and Samuel Whitehead and 
Sanders Walker the lay elders. Wm. Graves, Rich- 
ard Harris, Wm. Knight, Wm. Allen, Robert Cole- 
man. Jonathan Johnston, Charles Harris, Alexander 
Walker, Samuel Whitehead, and Sanders Walker, 
appear to be among the most prominent and useful 
members of the church. 

The following entry was made on the 6th of June: 
j'The church appointed brethren Richard Harris, 
Wm. Graves, and Jonathan Johnston, to go with 


Elder Jeremiah Walker to Alexander Walker'J 
meeting-house to sit as a church on the 9th of JunJ 
for the purpose of receiving members." They sub 
sequently reported that they had discharged- thd 
duty imposed upon them, having "received arm 
baptized six members." t The membership was largcj 
and much scattered over an extensive region, as; 
there were no other regularly constituted Baptisfl 
churches nearer than Dan River, in Halifax coun-j 
ty, Va., and Sandy Creek, in Guilford county, N. G, 
On the 14th of October, 1770, the Sandy CreeKj 
Association, which embraced all the Separate Bap-j 
tists in North and South Carolina and Virginia, con-« 
vened at Grassy Creek meeting-house, Granville 
county, N. C. Richard Harris, Samuel Whitehead,! 
and Wm. Graves, were, by the appointment of the 
church, members of this body. This wide-spreadj 
Association was accustomed to transact none of its 
business, except by a unanimous vote.) If any' 
measure was proposed for action, and there arose a 
difference of opinion in regard to it, they tried tin 
effect unity by arguments, and if these failed, theyj 
united in prayer for the removal of every cause of 
dissent, but when both arguments and prayer were 
unavailing, they would frequently appoint the next! 
day for fasting and prayer to secure, if possible, per- 
fect unanimity. ('The very first business introduced! 
at this session produced dissension, which resulted [ 
by mutual agreement, in the division of the Ass</ 



nation, and which, for the sake of convenience, if 
for no other reason, ought to have been done before 
Shis time. It appears that the question, in regard 
bo which there was so much disagreement, was the 
jurisdiction which the Association was assuming 
over the churches, and thereby infringing upon their 
individual rights. While all agreed that a church 
was independent and complete in itself, having full 
\powGY to transact its own business, without being 
amenable to any other ecclesiastical body, still some 
contended that a church had also the right to trans- 
fer its authority to an Association, but others main- 
tained correctly that a church, as Christ established 
it,'" could not alienate its right to independent self- 
government— that its authority is inherent and can- 
not be transferred to any other ecclesiastical body 
wTiatever.Y Thus, being greatly disturbed by disa- 
greement, on account of the sad mistake into which 
many had fallen in regard to church independency, 
they were not able to proceed with their business. 

" They appointed the next day for fasting and 
prayer. They met and labored the whole day, and 
could do nothing— not even appoint a Moderator. 
The third day was appointed for the same purpose, 
and to be observed in the same way. They met early 
(the third day) and continued together until three 
o'clock in the afternoon, without having accom- 
plished anything; a proposal was then made that 
the Association should be divided into three dis- 


tricts, that is, one in each State. To this there was; 
a unanimous consent at once." See Benedict's Hist, 
of the Bap., p. 649. 

The churches in South Carolina united to form] 
what was called the Congaree Association, those in 
North Carolina retained the name of Sandy Creek, 
and the Virginia churches united under the name 
Rapidann, usually called the General Association of 
Separate Baptists of Virginia. 

At this time the Baptists in their Associations 
gave but little attention to points of order, or the 
manner of conducting business. They spent their 
time principally in preaching and exhortatir;i. 
They recounted their labors in the Redeemer's 
cause, the success which had crowned their exer- 
tions, and their prospects for future usefulness. 
These religious exercises and thrilling narrations 
. were well adapted to inflame the hearts of the breth- 
ren with holy zeal, and urge them forward with re- 
newed energy in their self-denying labors for the 
glory of God and the salvation of sinners. 

Grassy Creek church, after the division of the 
Sandy Creek Association, associated with the Vir- 
ginia brethren, first in the General or Middle Dis- 
trict Association till 1788, then in the Roanoke till 
1794, when the Flat River Association was organ- 
ized. Since that time it has been a member of that 
body. The records of the church show that they 
have, from the beginning, steadfastly maintained 


the doctrine of church independency, and held that 
an Association was only an advisory council, which 
possessed no authority whatever over the internal 
affairs of a church. 

It is painful to be compelled to state that on the 
21st of November, 1770, Elder James Reed, the pas- 
tor, was excluded for unchristian conduct from the cJ^-- 
fellowship of the church. Elders Jeremiah Wal- 
ker and John AVilliams, having been called on as 
helps, or as a council, were present to aid the breth- 
ren in this serious difficulty. ) This was a safe and 
prudent course, which ought to be pursued in all 
perplexing cases of church discipline, especially 
those in which ministers of the gospel are involved. 
It is a sad reflection, that a man who had been so 
preeminently useful as a herald of the cross should 
be guilty of actions so inconsistent with his high 
calling, and in violation of God's holy word, that 
the church over which he presided as its spiritual 
guide could not, in faithfulness to the Master, do 
otherwise than excommunicate him from fellow- 

Within two years after this unhappy affair he 
gave satisfactory evidence of his repentance, and 
was restored to the communion of the church, and 
soon afterwards to all the functions of the gospel 
ministry ; and at length he was again chosen pas- 
tor and served the church with fidelity for a great 
many years,, ; beloved by the brethren and blest of 


God in building up the cause of Zion. During the 
interval, Elder Samuel Harris of Va., who was so- 
highly distinguished in his day for his eloquence 
and usefulness, served the church as its spiritual 

In 1771, the meetings of the church were regu- 
larly held through the year, and the ordinary busi 
ness pertaining to such a body was transacted. In 
what light the church viewed the holding of erron 
eous opinions in doctrine by any of its members 
may be distinctly seen in the following extract from 
its records : "Hezekiah Tabor was called upon to 
show cause why he should not be excommunicated 
for holding unsound principles, (false doctrine,) but 
he neglecting to hear the church, is therefore ex- 
communicated.'' The church had previously labor- 
ed with this wandering brother, and tried to con- 
* vince him of his errors, and induce him to abandon 
them, but in vain. He obstinately refused to re- 
tract, and of course there was nothing left in his 
case for them to do but to exclude him from fellow- 
ship. "A man that is a heretic, after the first and 
second admonition reject." (Titus iii: 10). A heretic 
is one who maintains unsound religious principles, 
especially denying some fundamental doctrine of 
the gospel. The church, as the guardian of God's 
truth, is bound, after warning him of his error, and 
exhorting him to retract, if he still refuses to return 
to the faith of the gospel, to exclude him from her 


fellowship. The doctrine of the gospel is uncom- 
promising, requiring an individual to believe the 
whole of it to be a true Christian. The faith of the 
gospel is one and undivided. The church must 
maintain the unity of faith: — "For there is one 
body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism." 
(Eph. iv:4, 5.) Some Scriptural truths are less fun- xaU-t^C 
damental than others, and some things in regard to 
which Christian men may innocently entertain dif- 
ferent views without impairing the unity of faith. 

On the 26th of Sept., 1772, "brethren Richard 
Harris and William Cockril were delegated to go to 
Bute (now Warren) county, to settle and regulate 
church matters there." Subsequent to this date, I 
find the following entry on the Church Book :■ "At a 
meeting in Bute (Warren) county, the church, be- 
lieving that God had called Jonathan Johnson to 
the work of a deacon, put him to the work and or- 
dained him." In »wh,at part of Warren county, N. 
C, this arm of Grassy Creek Church was located, I 
do not know, but it is more than probable that it 
was at or near the place where the church now call- 
ed Tanner's is situated, and out of which it was 

On the 28th of November, "the church received a 
petition from the brethren worshipping at Blue 
Stone, requesting the pastor and elders to meet with 
them on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday in 
Pecember, to consider the propriety of constituting 


them into a church." This branch was found to be 

sufficiently matured as to justify its regular organi- 
zation, which was accordingly done at the time 
above mentioned. Blue Stone (now Bethel) church 
was located in Mecklenburg county, Va., some eigh- 
teen or twenty miles north of Grassy Creek Meeting 

In 1773, at a church meeting March the 5th, the 
following query was presented and answered : 

Query: "Should a private transgression be made 
public while there is hope of recovering the offend- 
er ? Answer : No." 

There is, perhaps, no rule of church discipline 
more frequently violated than the one embraced in 
this query. "If thy brother shall trespass against 
thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee 
alone," &c, (Matt. 18: 15.) If this command of 
Christ were strictly obeyed by his professed follow^ 
ers, how many personal difficulties would be ad- 
justed without reaching the public ear, to dishonor 
religion in the eyes of the world, and how many 
church troubles would be prevented, which often 
distract and destroy the peace of the brotherhood. 

The passage in the 18th chapter of Matthew 
points out the course which should be pursued in 
regard to personal, private offences, with such dis- 
tinctness that any reasonable man can, if he will, 
understand it, and every church should demand pf 
its members strict conformity to its divine require- 


ments; and should any one fail to act according to 
these directions given by the Saviour, he ought to 
be subjected to the censure of the church for such 
failure. i 

In June. 1774, the following query was offered,* 
discussed, and answered: " Whether a member who 
absents him self from the Lord's Supper, without 
giving some reason for it, is not liable to the censure 
of the church ? Answer : He is liable." 

The Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ, and 
committed to the charge of the churches, to be ob- 
served by them as a sacred memorial of his suffer- 
ings and death until his second coming. Every 
member in full fellowship is solemnly bound by the 
relations which he professes to sustain to Christ, 
and which he does actually sustain to the church, 
to partake of the Holy Supper, whenev er the church 
to which he belongs thinks proper to celebrate it; 
consequently, any member who voluntarily and 
persistently absents himself from this standing, 
gospel ordinance, should very justly fall under the 
censure of the church for the culpable neglect of 
duty and disobedience to the command of Christ, — ■ 
"Do this in remembrance of me." There are some 
humble, sincere christians who, feeling their un- 
worthiness, have been deterred from participating 
at the table of the Lord from erroneous views of that 
Scripture (I Cor. 11 : 29) which says : " For he that 
eateth and diinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh 


damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's 
body/' The word " unworthily " modifies the eat- 
ing and drinking, and not the person who performs 
these acts. It refers not to the character of the par- 
ticipants, but the manner of eating and drinking at the 
Lord's table. The Corinthians had desecrated and 
profaned this sacred institution by making it a car- 
nal feast of intemperance and excess. The term, 
"damnation" means condemnation or judgment, 
not in reference to eternal punishment, but those 
temporal judgments with which God chastised his 
offending servants who so wickedly perverted his 
holy ordinance. 

In 1775, Elder James Reed being pastor, the 
church was blessed with the spirit of grace, and 
many precious souls were converted and added to 
its number, baptisms occurring at almost every 
regular meeting throughout the year. 

The following is the first instance on record of any 
member being dealt with for dancing : 

On the 24th of September, " brethren Henry 
Howard and Lemuel Wilson were appointed to ad- 
monish sister J C for living an immoral 

life, such as dancing," &g. On the 24th of Novem- 
ber, "the committee reported that they had dealt 

with sister J C , and had also cited her to 

the church. She being present, was called on by 
the church to answer to the charge. She owned the 
allegation, but said she found no repentance, (that 


is, she was unwilling to give up dancing.) She then 
not being found to hear the church, was, therefore 

Social dancing for amusement is not only un- 
scriptural, but it is positively and specifically for- 
bidden by the word of God. 

"Envyings. murders, drunkenness, revellings, and 
such like, * * I tell you * * that they 
which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom 
of God." (Gal. v: 21.) u For the time past of our life 
may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gen- 
tiles, when we walked * * in excess of wine, revel- 
ings, banquetings," &c. (I. Pet. 4:3.) "Revellings" (Gr. 
komoi, dancings in merry making, a jovial festivity 
with music and dancing) specifically designate such 
feasts as were connected with music and dancing. 
There can be no doubt about the Apostles Paul and 
Peter using the term ''revellings" to denote the exer- 
cise of dances with music, as classed with the "works 
of the flesh," and wholly inconsistent with the Chris- 
tian profession. Paris leads the fashionable world in 
dancing as well as in dress. The most popular 
dances in fashionable circles come from that corrupt 
source of extravagance and skepticism. It is true, 
that many amiable young ladies and gentlemen, 
who are the victims of custom and fashion, resort to 
these places of amusement and revelry, where excess 
and frivolities reign, and where the conscience is 
hardened, the affections debased, the passions en- 


flamed, time wasted, and God forgotten and dishon- 
ored. Can any Christian, who is acquainted with 
God's word, and can appreciate the value of the im- 
mortal soul, view such scenes of dissipation as harm- 
less? But there are many who denounce the pub- 
lic ball, but favor the private parlor dance. The 
difference is only in degree, and not in the nature 
of the exercise. If the ball dance is wrong the par- 
lor dance is wrong also ; for the latter naturally 
leads to the former. 

There are some parents claiming to be Christians 
who wish to have their daughters trained in a 
dancing school, to be taught how to be graceful — 
that is, how to stand and walk, and how to place 
their hands and feet. This is only a subterfuge of 
folly. To whom is this important trust committed? 
To, perhaps, some French infidel dandy, or some 
foppish pretender, of bad morals and vicious habjts. 
Is this the way to train them for God and Heaven ? 
Alas, how many young church members are drawn 
away from the path of rectitude and piety by the 
fascinations of the giddy dance ! It drives out of 
the heart the love of God and his holy religion. Its 
effects are evil, and only evil. Can a church of 
Christ tolerate dancing in its members and be faith- 
ful to its great Head? If they love dancing better 
than they love the Saviour and his church, they 
should undoubtedly be excluded from its fellowship 


and permitted to go back to the world to which they 
truly belong. 

In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was 
signed and proclaimed to the world. 

Nov. 16th, "brother Aaron P. was called upon to 
give his reasons for not communing. His reasons 
not being satisfactory to the church, his case is re- 
ferred to the next meeting." 

Dec. 14th, "brother P. came before the church and 
made satisfaction for his disorder, and all censure 
being dismissed, he is restored." 

This instance is given to show the strict discipline 
which, at this date, the church maintained. 

In 1777, Feb. 8th, the church, having transacted 
its regular business, considered the question, "wheth- 
er the bar to communion between this church and 
the Regulars, called Bennett's Church, on Grassy 
Creek, could not be removed ; but the church not 
being fully agreed, it was referred to the next church 
meeting for further consideration." 

March the 8th, "the last reference was brought 
forward, whereupon Bro. Samuel Whitehead arose, 
and reported that he, with several other brethren, 
met in conference with Bennett's Church, and that 
their order and discipline were exactly as ours, and 
thereupon the church unanimously agreed, as there 
was no difference in our order there should be no 
bar to communion, and they gave each other the 
right hand of fellowship." 


From this extract it will be seen that Grassy 
Creek church was far in advance of the great body 
of Separate Baptists in forming a union with the 
Regular Baptists. This was not effected until 1787, 
ten years later by the Virginia Baptists, at Dover 
Meeting-house, and by the North Carolina brethren 
at a still later date. 

"On the 13th of July, 1777, the church held a con- 
ference meeting on the river to receive and baptize 
members." At what particular point where this 
meeting was held I am not able to determine, but 
from the names of the persons received and other 
circumstances, it was doubtless on Dan river, in 
Mecklenburg county, Va. There was evidently a 
branch of this church in that section, which was 
regularly constituted in 1778 into what is known as 
the Buffalo Baptist church. 

From 1778 to 17S5, the records show nothing 
worthy of remark, except that the church, during 
the war of the Revolution, in spite of its injurious 
effects upon morals and religion, maintained its 
standing, kept up its stated meetings, and sustained 
the regular ministrations of the gospel. While some 
churches were swept away by the storm, and others 
scattered and so reduced in number as to have 
scarcely an existence, yet C4rassy Creek church, 
though suffering much by declension in common 
with others, survived the war, still retaining com- 
paratively a large membership of earnest Christians. \ 


During the years 178G and '87, the church enjoy- 
ed a gracious and continuous work of grace, sur- 
passing in extent, power and influence, any other 
revival with which it had perhaps ever been visited. 
Quite a number were baptized and added to the 
church, and among the number were several who 
became ministers of the gospel. 

This Church held meetings on Island Creek to 
receive and baptize members, where she established 
a branch, from which arose Island Creek church, 
which was regularly constituted in 1820. 

In 1789, Elder Reed, having served the church 
successfully for more than a quarter of century, and 
being now full of years, retired from the active la- 
bors of the pastorship, bearing with him the affec- 
tions of the people among whom he had so faithfully 
toiled. Elder Henry Lester was then chosen pastor, 
who served the church for several years, acceptably 
and efficiently. During this year a very precious 
revival of religion w r ;:s experienced and many were 
converted and added to the church, 

The Roanoke Association* met with this church 
May 16th, 1789. The ministers present were, Sam. 
Harris, Moderator, John Williams, Clerk, Reuben 

*The Roanoke Association was formed in 1788 out of the Mid- 
dle District, This wide-spread institution included all the 
churches in Mecklenburg, Halifax, Pittsylvania, and other 
counties in Virginia, and Granville, Person, Caswell, Booking-, 
ham, and other counties in North Carolina, 


Pickett, Thomas Vass, John Atkinson, James 
Reed, James Watkins, George Roberts, William 
Dodson, James Hurt, and others. Here they re- 
solved on two things: first, to have a seminary to ed- 
ucate preachers ; and secondly, to gather materials 
for a history of the Baptists of Virginia. The pro- 
ceedings of this Association prove two things : first, 
that the early Baptists did believe in education ; 
and secondly, the anti-missionaries are wrong for 
calling themselves "Primitive Baptists." In 1793; 
the Roanoke Association again held its session with 
this church. 

In 1790, '91, '92, the church was in a prosperous 
condition, maintaining strict discipline, as the follow- 
ing query and answer will indicate : " Query : Does 
the word of God tolerate Christians to be at balls and 
the assemblies of the wicked ?" The church voted 
unanimously, '' No." The followers of Christ are re- 
quired to "abstain from all appearance of evil." He, 
therefore, who attends balls, and the gatherings of 
the wicked, not only acts inconsistently with his pro- 
fession, but voluntarily goes into temptation which is 
incompatible with that petition in the Lord's prayer 
which he is taught by the Saviour himself to offer: 
"Lead us not into temptation." The church at this 
time censured an} r of its members " for being at 
balls, or weddings where fiddling and dancing were 
carried on." 

The 4th Saturday in January, 1793, Bro. Charles 


Harris, who had served the church as its Clerk for 
more than twenty-three years, being full of years, 
resigned that office, and Bro. William Royster was 
chosen to fill his place. At the same meeting, the 
following query was offered to the church for con- 
sideration : " Whether it is disorder or not, for a 
member of the church to stay at home, or go visit- 
ing on the Lord's day, when he might conveniently 
attend public worship ?" The church voted unani- 
mously, " It is disorder." 

Church members, if they are what they profess to 
be, have given themselves first to the Lord, and 
then to one another, according to His appointment, 
for mutual edification and growth in grace. They 
are united together in the most tender and sacred 
covenant relations, solemnly pledged to God and 
each other, to walk in all the commandments and 
ordinances of the Lord in brotherly love ; and being 
bound by the laws of this holy compact, they are 
under imperative obligations to meet regularly and 
punctually for the purpose of promoting each other's 
piety and usefulness, the purity and discipline of 
the church, and in building up the Redeemer's 
Kingdom in the world. Can any member absent 
himself from the public worship of God and the as- 
semblies of his saints with impunity, by remaining 
at home, or in social visiting on the Lord's day ? It 
is the duty of every member to be present at all the 
stated meetings of the church, either for preaching 


or business. The primitive christians were accus- 
tomed to meet every Lord's day to worship God in 
his ordinances, and christians of the present day 
should follow r their holy example. 

The following extracts from the records will show 
how this church regarded the rights of a church 
respecting the ordination* of ministers : 

The 4th Saturday in September, 1793, "the 
church believing that Bro. William Richards, a 
licentiate, is called of God to preach His everlasting 
gospel, and finding his gifts profitable to the church, 
appoints Elders James Reed, George Roberts and 
Reuben Pickett to assist in ordaining him to the 
work of the ministry." 

" The 4th Saturday in November, Bro. Richards 

*The following is a copy of the credentials recorded in the 
church book, given to a brother at his ordination on the 14th 
of February, 1787, nearly 100 years ago : 

" This is to certify that our beloved brother, , was, by 

the approbation of the Baptist church of Christ at , set 

apart by prayer and fasting, and the laying on of the hands of 
the Presbytery, to the administration of the word and ordi- 
nances of the Lord Jesus Christ. He having been called to the 
pastoral care of said church by the unanimous voice aud the 
mutual consent of the same, takes the oversight of the church, 
manifested by giving each other the hand of fellowship in the 
presence of the Presbytery." 

J R 

G K 

E P 


was regularly set apart <o the work of the gospel 
ministry, by Elders Reed, Roberts and Pickett." 

The church has the inherent right to grant license 
to a brother to preach, and also to call for his ordi- 
nation, when they think suitable, and invite a Pres- 
bytery for that purpose. 

Sister S C " is censured for talking too 

freely. She makes confession, and is restored to 
fellowship." Church members should be very cau- 
tious how they speak of each other. They should 
be careful not to say anything that tends to inter- 
rupt the exercise of kind feelings, or hinder the 
growth of christian affection. The tongue, that un- 
ruly member, full of deadly poison, must be gov- 
erned. Christians should strictly observe the divine 
precept, " Speak not evil one of another." They 
must abstain from all unkind remarks about each 
other, which have a tendency to excite resentment, 
wound feelings, or alienate affections, if they would 
act consistently with the principles of our holy re- 

Elder Thomas Vass was chosen pastor, and con- 
tinued the pastorate until 1805, when he resigned, 
and removed to Stokes count} 7 , N. C. 

In December, 1805, Elder Reuben Pickett became 
their pastor and continued till October, 1808, when 
Elder Thomas Vass was recalled to the pastorate, 
which office he continued to hold until 1814. 

In 1798, the following query was presented and 


answered : " Query : Is it right at this day for min- 
isters to receive and baptize persons within the 
bounds of another church? Answer, No." 

Many Baptist ministers had, at an early period, 
been in the habit of baptizing converts who desired 
it, wherever they found them, upon their individual 
responsibility, and giving them letters of commen- 
dation to any Baptist church to which they might 
be disposed to apply for membership. This loose 
way of receiving and baptizing members was then 
justified upon the ground that there were but few 
churches and they widely separated from each other. 
It was claimed to be a matter of necessity, but the 
practice was continued by a few ministers for a 
number of years, greatly to the annoyance of some 
of the churches, when there was no good excuse for 
such looseness. Baptism is a church ordinance, and 
should be administered by church authority. 

From 180S to 1813, while I find nothing deserv- 
ing any special notice, still it is worthy of remark 
in passing, that the church appears to have been in 
a healthy condition, and retained an excellent and 
useful membership. 

In 1814, Elder Thomas Vass, who had been the 
spiritual guide of the church for many years, now 
retires from the pastorate, full of years and good 
works; and Elder Elisha Battle was chosen as his 
successor, which office he retained some five years. 


The church seems to have prospered under the min- 
istry of this devoted servant of God. 

Thomas Vass, jr., was appointed clerk in the 
place of William Royster, who resigned the office 
on account of the infirmities of declining age. He 
had faithfully served the church as clerk for more 
than twenty years. 

During the years 1819 and 1820, the church was 
blessed with the evangelical labors of Elder Robert 
T. Daniel, that distinguished man of God, whose 
efforts were so signally blessed in extending the 
Redeemer's Kingdom among men. In 1821, Elder 
William B. Worrell was elected pastor, and entered 
upon the duties of his office, which relation he sus- 
tained until 1824. 

In 1824, Rev. Thomas D. Mason, a teacher of 
vocal music and a licentiate of Brier Creek Church 
Chatham county, N. C, having located in the vi- 
cinity and united with the church, was called to the 
pastorate and ordained to the ministry. He served 
the church in that capacity until 1827, when Elder 
Samuel Duty became their pastor and served the 
church for one year. 

Thomas Vass, Jr., having resigned the Clerkship, 
James Hester was appointed to that position in his 

In 1829, Elder James King, having been chosen 
to the pastorate, entered upon his duties and con- 
tinued to serve the church in that relation until 


November, 1846, when he resigned the care of the 
church. During the long pastorate of this earnest, 
pious minister of Jesus, the church was blest with 
many gracious seasons of revival, and numbers were 
added to the church by baptism. 

In 1832, Thomas Hester was elected Clerk in the 
place of James Hester, deceased. 

In 1833, the original meeting-house 'a large frame 
building) having become dilapidated by age— hav- 
ing stood the corrodings of time more than three- 
score years and ten — the brethren erected a new and 
commodious house of worship, some two hundred 
yards from the old site, in a beautiful grove on the 
public road. 

As early as 1829 a Missionary Society was formed 
in this church and collected during the year nearly 
a hundred dollars for the cause of missions. 

'In 1838, an effort was made by Elder Stephen 
Chandler, a leading anti-missionary preacher of the 
Country-Line Association, to lead Grassy Creek 
church into Anti-ism, but without success. The 
church not only discountenanced the movement, 
but they promptly declared by a vote of the church, 
"that Elder Stephen Chandler should not preach in 
their meeting-house, believing he was sowing dis- 
cord among the brethren." After this repulse, he 
preached for awhile in what was called the " Log- 
meeting-house," some three miles distant, but meet- 
ing with little or no encouragement, and making no 


converts to his anti-views, he discontinued his 
labors, and from that time until the present (1880) 
they have not been disturbed by any other preacher 
of the anti-mission party. • 

The Anti-mission Baptists have assumed the name 
of " Olct, . or Primitive Baptists" an appellation to 
which the history of Grassy Creek Church shows 
very distinctly they have no just claim. Indeed, 
they are a modern sect. Baptist history proves con- 
clusively that there never was a body of Baptists 
who were opposed to missions until about 1825. 

The first missionary society ever formed by the 
Baptists" of North Carolina, so far as the compiler 
knows, was organized at Cashie Meeting-house, in 
Bertie county, in June, 1805, within the bounds of 
the Kehukee Association. It was called " The Gen- 
eral Meeting of Correspondence." It continued in 
existence until the 26th of March, 1830, when it was 
merged into the Baptist State Convention. The 
General Meeting was confined in its operations to 
supplying the destitute with the gospel in our own 
State; but the Baptist State Convention enlarged 
upon its operations — embracing Foreign Missions, 
Ministerial Education, &c. 

It can be shown from history beyond any ques- 
tion, that the Kehukee and Country-Line Associa- 
tion, two of the oldest and most prominent anti-mis- 
sionary Associations in North Carolina, were, up to 
1827 and 1832, committed to the mission work. 


They sent delegates to the General Meeting of Cor- 
respondence, and contributed to its funds. In 1816 
Elder George Roberts, a leading minister of the 
Country-Line Association, was the Moderator of this 
Missionary Societ} 7 , and Robt. T. Daniel wag the 
agent. Elder James Osbourne, of Baltimore, some- 
time about 1830 , came into North Carolina, visiting 
ing the churches, selling his books, and preaching — 
or rather making war upon Bible, Tract, Sunday 
Schools, Temperance and Missionary Societies — 
zealously diffusing anti-missionary sentiments 
among the brethren, wherever he traveled, which 
resulted in discord and division. Under his in- 
fluence many were led astray, and induced to take 
a dead stand against all benevolent enterprises, in 
which Christians were engaged for the spread of the 
gospel and the welfare of mankind. His influence, 
like the fatal simoom of Arabia, withered the spirit 
of benevolence and arrested all efforts for the spread 
of the gospel. Elder Osbourne is regarded with 
much propriety, as the Father of Anti-ism in North 
Carolina. The writer of this saw and heard him 
preach at Chatham, Va. His sermons were full of 
abusive vituperations, ridicule and dogmatism. He 
was a man of good address, genteel in his appear- 
ance, and possessed of a good deal of native talent, 
with a large measure of self-esteem, egotism and 

The great body of the Baptist denomination has 


ever been in favor of benevolent effort. David Ben- 
edict, the Baptist historian, when near the close of 
a long life, devoted to the investigation of Baptist 
history, says : "The further down I go into the re- 
gions of antiquity, the more fully is the missionary 
character of all whom we denominate our sentimen- 
tal brethren (Baptists) developed. Propagandist 
was their motto and their watchword. They seldom 
went alone, but two and two was the order of their 
going out; and such was the ardor of their zeal in 
their hazardous vocations, that no ordinary ob- 
stacles could alarm their fears or impede their pro- 
gress. As nothing of this kind appears among the 
opponents of the missionary enterprise, I cannot, 
with my views of duty as an honest historian, apply 
to them the term ("Old, or Primitive Baptists") in 
question, as I fully believe they misapprehend their 
own character in this matter." 

The Baptist State Convention met with Grassy 
Creek church, Nov. 1st, 1839. Six Associations, viz: 
Sandy Creek, Raleigh, Cape Fear, Goshen, Beulah, 
and Flat River, and thirty-two churches and socie- 
ties, were represented by delegates. Gen. Alfred 
Dockery was elected President; Thomas Meredith, 
Charles W. Skinner, and Samuel Wait, Vice Presi- 
dents; Wm. H. Jordan, Corresponding Secretary; 
James McDaniel, Recording Secretary; and A. J. 
Battle, Treasurer.. Bro. John Stovall was the dele- 
gate from Grassy Creek church, and "Messrs. Ven- 


able, Barneit, Speed, Overby, Clack, Downey, Sto- 
vail and Hester," were the committee of arrange- 
ments. They were thanked by name in a resolu- 
tion of the Convention, "for the kind and hospitable 
manner in which the delegates and visitors were 
entertained." The introductory sermon before the 
Convention was, in the absence of the appointee, 
preached by Elder "John Armstrong, lately returned 
from Europe." Elder Sam'l Wait submitted the re„ 
port on Home Missions, which recommended the em- 
ployment of five missionaries by the Convention, "one 
to labor wholly within the bounds of the Chowan 
Association ; one to travel within the bounds of the 
Neuse and Tar River Associations ; another to sup- 
ply the churches composing the Goshen and Cape 
Fear Associations ; and the other two to occupy the 
• remaining part of the State." The Convention, 
however, recommended the Board to appoint ten in- 
stead of five missionaries. The reports of two mis- 
sionaries — Elders Richard Jacks and Robert Mc- 
Nabb — are given in the minutes. Bro. Jacks labor- 
ed in the counties of Sampson, New Hanover, Du- 
plin, Wayne, Lenoir, Pitt, Craven, Carteret, Bladen, 
and Ashe, and collected $102.69. Bro. McNabb la- 
bored in Craven, Chatham, Moore, Randolph, Gran- 
ville, Orange, and other counties. " During the 
whole time," he writes, "I was engaged in the ser- 
vice of the Convention, I have travelled 201 days, 
preached 218 sermons, rode more than 1,400 miles, 



baptized 59 persons, and collected $51.75. The 
Treasurer's report shows contributions for Home 
(State) Missions, $573.54; Foreign Missions, $1,081.74, 
nearly twice as much; and for Education, $534.39. 
Total for the year, $2,189.69. 

After the adjournment of the Convention, the N. 
C. Bible Society met in the same house, Nov. 4th, 
1839, in its annual session. T. Meredith was ap- 
pointed President ; Win. H. Jordan and S. Wait, 
Vice Presidents ; David S. Williams, Cor. Sec; A. 
J. Battle, Rec. Sec, ; and A. Dockery, Treas. This 
Society was auxiliary to the American and Foreign 
Bible Society, and reported collections amounting 
to $148.59. Among its members for the year were 
John Stovall, Jas. Overby, T. B. Barnett, and others, 
who belonged to Grassy Creek church and commu- 

In November, 1846, Elder King resigned the care 
of the church, and Elder Robert I. Devin, who was 
laboring in the bounds of the Flat River Associa- 
tion as a missionary of the Baptist State Convention, 
was invited by the church to fill the vacancy. Sat- 
isfactory arrangements having been made with the 
State Mission Board to that effect, he supplied the 
church as pastor until October, when his' connection 
with the Convention was dissolved ; and having 
been unanimously called to the pastorate, he, in No- 
vember, entered fully upon the duties of his office. 

During the year 1847, the church experienced a 


very precious work of grace, and quite a number of 
valuable members were added to the church by bap- 
tism. Elder D. continued to be their under-shep- 
herd until November, 1858, when lie resigned and 
moved temporarily to Florida. During the years 
1850 and '51, revivals of religion of unusual power 
were enjoyed under his ministry. 

On the 4th Sabbath m September, 1850, Elder D| 
the pastor, baptized fifty happy converts in that old 
noble stream which flows near the house of God, 
from which it received its name, which has become 
hallowed by its sacred use, and in which, perhaps, 
a thousand believing souls have, by his hands, been 
plunged beneath its yielding waves. It was a bright 
autumn day. A crowd of unusual size early assem- 
bled on its lovely banks to witness the solemn ordi- 
nance. It was indeed an impressive scene — so 
deeply imprinted on memory's page— that, perhaps, 
time itself will never efface. The young, the old 
and middle aged, in glad obedience to their Master's 
will, went down into the water and were buried with 
their Lord in holy baptism, many of whom became 
exemplary Christians and valuable church members; 
and while some are still lingering on the shores of 
time, eminent for piety and usefulness, awaiting the 
Master's summons, others have crossed the river 
and are now upon the other shore, enjoying its rest 
and its rewards. 

On the 23d of February, 1850, Bro. John E. Mon- 


tague was, according to a unanimous vote of the 
church, ordained to the full work of the gospel min- 

jiistry by Elders Servetus A. Creath and R. I. Devin, 
In November, 1858, Elder Moses Baldwin took the 
care of the church, and continued in that relation 
until November, 1859, when he surrendered his 
charge, and Elder R. I. Devin was recalled, and 
again became their pastor, which office he held 
until November, 1862, when he gave up his charge 
and removed to Forsyth county, N. C. 

In November, 1862, Elder Robert H. Marsh be- 
came pastor of the church, which position he held 

i until October, 1865, when he resigned and removed 
to Chatham county, N. C. During his term of ser- 
vice, the church prospered, a gracious revival was 

j enjo}'ed, and a number of valuable accessions were 
made to its membership by baptism. 

In November, 1865, Elder R. I. Devin, having 
been again recalled, entered upon the duties of the 
pastorate, which he has continued to perform up to 
the present time, (1880.) Elder D. has gone in and 
out before this flock, as their under-shepherd, from 
1847 to 1880, excepting four years — in all more than 
29 years. 

The church, under the ministry of Elder D., has 
experienced about twelve gracious revivals of religion, 
but the most remarkable, as well as the most exten- 
sive, were those of 1850 and 1866. 

In 1869, Bro. Thos. Hester, who had discharged 


the duties of Church Clerk for thirty-seven years, on 
account of declining age, resigned his office, and 
Bro. Bridges T. Winston was chosen in his stead, 
which station he still holds, (18S0.) 

In 1879, the church determined to repair their 
house of worship. The building having become 
old and somewhat antiquated, it was repaired and 
remodelled in accordance with modern taste, which 
having been handsomely painted, presents not only 
a beautiful appearance, but it is in reality one of 
the neatest and most comfortable meeting-houses 
now to be found in the country. Love for God and 
his cause, and reverence for his house and worship, 
ought to be sufficient to influence christians to 
beautify the sanctuary of the Lord, (( the place where 
his honor dw T elleth." A good, comfortable house 
for divine service, sneaks well for the morals and 
refinement of the community in which it is located, 
and reflects favorably upon the church and pastor 
that build it 

Grass}' Creek church has ever sympathized with 
the great mission work, in its various departments, 
and was one of the first churches in North Carolina 
to contribute of their means to aid in sending the 
gospel to heathen lands. May she, as a church, ever 
live and continue to assist, with increasing liber- 
ality, the glorious work of extending the Redeem- 
er's cause until the whole earth shall be filled with 
His glory. 


Since this church began to be founded, nearly 
four generations have passed away, but still she has, 
amid changing scenes and rolling years, maintained 
a happy standing among the daughters of Zion, 
She has ever maintained a strict and wholesome 
discipline, especially was this true in her early 

The pastors with whom she has been blessed, with 
few exceptions, were men of God, sound in doctrine, 
and devoted to the work of the ministry. And it 
also appears that she has never been much troubled 
with " itching ears "—that love of novelty and va- 
riety — which demand frequent changes, but on the 
contrary favored, and sustained long pastorates.* 

It is difficult at this day to make out a complete 
list of the churches which have sprung from this 
old mother church ; for from her originated nearly 
all the churches in the surrounding country. The 
following elmichds were formed wholly or partly of 
members from this church : Meherrin, Bethel, Buf- 
falo, and probably others, in Va., Tahb's Creek, 
Shearman's, Tanner's, Island Creek, Olive Branch, 
Amis' Chapel, Hester's and Mountain Creek in 
North Carolina. 

List of the Pastors of Grassy Creek Baptist Churcti.-— 
James Reed, Samuel Harris, Henry Lester, Thomas 

*Four pastors— Elders Beed, Vass, King and Deyin, have 
served the church about 100 years. 


Vass, Reuben Picket, Elisha Battle, Robt. T. Daniel, 
Wm. B. Worrel, Thos. D. Mason, Samuel Duty, 
James King, Moses Baldwin, Robert H. Marsh, 
Robert I. Devin. 

List of Ministers sent out from this Church (Licen- 
tiate or Ordained).-— Sanders Walker, Wm. Creath, 
Wm. Whitehead, Wm. Richards, Zachariah Allen, 
Daniel Gould, Wm. B. Worrell, John E. Montague, 
George N. Pittard, and others. 

List of Lay- Elders.— -Samuel Whitehead, Sanders 
Walker, Henry Howard, Wm. Cockrill. 

List of Deacons. — Richard Harris, Wm. Graves, 
Thos. Barnett, Sr., Jonathan Johnson, Charles Har- 
ris, Thomas Owens, Henry Hester, Samuel Allen, 
Jesse Barnett, George Hunt, Joseph Hart, George 
Norman, Francis Hester, Wm. Hester, Thomas B, 
Barnett, John Stovall, John S. Overby, L. B. Stone, 
George W. Pittard, James Hester, Thomas Hester, 
Richard Elam, S. Y. Ragsdale, B. T ? Winston, Thos, 
J. Pittard, John W. Gordon. 

List of Clerks. — Chas. Harris, Wm. Royster, Thos. 
Vass, Jr., James Hester, Thos, Hester, B. T. Winston. 



Biographical Sketches of the Pastors of 
Grassy Creek Baptist Church. 

The author was anxious to present at least a brief outline of 
the lives and labors of all the ministers, who have been con- 
nected with Grassy Creek church, but several names, whose 
memory ought to be preserved, he has been compelled to leave 
out, because the needful information could not be obtained. 

Much allowance must be made for a portion of the sketches 
which are given, on account of the scanty supply of materials 
out of which they were compiled. 

The sketches of Elders Eeed, Harris, Picket, Creath and 
Richards, are mainly taken from Dr. Taylor's " Lives of the 
Virginia Baptist Ministers," with some changes and additions, 
and that of Elder Daniel is condensed, with some alterations, 
from the one given by Dr. Purefoy in his "History of the Sandy 
Creek Association." 


Although it appears that Mr. Reed lived and died 
in the neighborhood of Grassy Creek, and sustained 
the pastorate of the church for nearly thirty years, 
yet, I have not been able to collect but little infor- 
mation concerning him, besides what is given by 
Semple, Taylor and Benedict. He was probably 
born in Edgecombe county, N. C, in 1726. In early 
life, he was the subject of much alarm, under the 
consciousness of his guilt, as a transgressor of the 
divine law, but he did not submit to the sway of 


the Prince of Peace until be was about thirty years 
of age, He was converted under the ministry of 
Rev. Daniel Marshall, and baptized by Elder Shu- 
bael Stearns about 1755 or '5G. His spirit was stir- 
red within him when he beheld the thousands 
around him exposed to ruin ; and he at once lifted 
up his voice in simplicity and godly sincerity, pro- 
claiming the gospel of Christ. Up to this period 
his opportunities for mental cultivation were very 
limited, but he assiduously applied himself to study, 
and under the instruction of his wife he became 
considerably improved. Although at the time of 
his entrance into the ministry he was in many res- 
pects unqualified to instruct in spiritual things, but 
as an evangelist he was very successful in winning 
souls to Christ. Indeed, his talent seems to have 
been peculiarly suited to this kind of labor. He 
traveled extensively, especially in the early part of 
his ministry, both in North Carolina and Virginia. 
In company with Elder Samuel Harris in one of his 
journeys, seventy-five, and in another, more than two 
hundred, were buried, by him, with Christ in bap- 
tism. He possessed a sanguine temperament, and 
in some things was enthusiastic — disposed to regard 
his impressions as immediately from heaven. Elder 
Reed was the first pastor of Grassy Creek church, 
and continued in that relation, with the exception 
of two or three years, till declining age disqualified 
him for the active duties of the pastorate. He was 


instrumental in planting the church at Buffalo, 
Mecklenburg county, Va., to whose oversight he was 
called at its organization in 1778, which position he 
occupied successfully for many years. His labors 
in building up the church were greatly blest, and 
several extensive revivals were enjoyed under his 
ministry, and many precious souls converted to God 
and added to the Lord through his instrumentality. 
His death took place in 1798, in the seventy-second 
year of his age, having been more than forty years 
engaged in the ministry. His end was most tri- 
umphant — willing to leave the world and expecting 
to be with Christ. His last words in departing 
were : " Do you not see the angels waiting to con- 
vey my soul to glory ?" 


Elder Harris sustained the pastoral office with 
the Grassy Creek people for about three years — that 
is, from 1770 to 1773. This distinguished minister 
of the gospel was unusually popular, and large 
crowds attended his meetings. 

Col. Harris, as he was usually called, was born 
January the 12th, 1724, in the county of Hanover, 
Virginia, but in early life settled in Pittsylvania. 
Few men could boast of a more respectable parent- 
age. His education, though not the most liberal, 
was very considerable for the customs of the day, 
and as he advanced in age, became a favorite with 


the people, as well as with the rulers. He was ap- 
pointed Church Warden, Sheriff, a Justice of the 
Peace, Burgess for the county, Colonel of the Militia, 
Captain of Mayo Fort, and Commissary for the Fort 
and Army. 

His conversion was effected under the ministry of 
two young and illiterate preachers by the name of 
Joseph and William Murphy, at that time com- 
monly called the Murphy boys. This occurred in 
one of his official tours to visit the forts under his 
care. Soon after he was baptized by Elder Daniel 
Marshall in 1758, who was then on one of his mis- 
sionary journeys into that region.. He commenced 
his ministerial course during the year succeeding 
his connection with the church. All his worldly 
^offices and honors, with their accompaniments, were 
disposed of in a very summary manner under the 
influence of his new impressions. And as he was a 
man of considerable wealth, he at once went out in 
his new and ardent vocation at his own cost ; and 
for about thirty years he was a self-supported mis- 
sionary in nearly all the then settled parts of Vir- 
ginia, and in many parts of North Carolina. 

For seven or eight years after he began the work 
of preaching the gospel, his labors were mostly con- 
fined to Pittsylvania and the neighboring counties. 
It is remarkable that during this time, while he 
preached the word and exercised the pastoral rule, 
he had not been authorized by the church of which 


he was a member to administer the ordinances of 
baptism and the Lord^s Supper. This delay was, 
doubtless, owing to some peculiarity of sentiment 
which he entertained relative to the ministerial 
■office. He was ordained in 1769, and began to ad- 
minister the ordinances. He was considered a great 
man and shone conspicuously as a luminary in the 
church ; and like the sun in his strength, he passed 
through the State of Virginia, displaying the glory 
of his adorable Master, and spreading his light and 
heat to the consolation of thousands. His success 
as an evangelist was most astonishing. The gospel, 
preached by him, was attended by the Spirit of God, 
and made effectual in the conversion of many souls- 

Perhaps [ew men of the eighteenth century con- 
tributed more to extend the truth and ordinances of 
the New Testament than Elder Harris. He was in 
almost all respects well qualified to secure the atten- 
tion of those who heard him. His manners were of 
the most winning sort. He scarcely ever went into 
a house without exhorting and praying for those he 
met there. As a doctrinal preacher, his talents were 
rather moderate, but at times he would display con- 
siderable ingenuity. His excellency consisted chiefly 
in addressing the heart, and perhaps even Whitfield 
did not surpass him m this respect. When ani- 
mated himself, he seldom failed to animate his au- 

His influence was deservedly extensive. He was 


called to preside at most of the Associations, and 
other meetings for business which he attended. 

In the struggles that took place between the Bap- 
tists and the established church, he was also hon- 
ored to take a very prominent part. He was not, 
however, required by his Master to sustain the same 
fiery persecutions, which were endured by some of 
his brethren. His influence in society previous to, 
his conversion, as well as his naturally fearless spirit, 
contributed to his advantage. It is not intimated 
that no sacrifices were made, or trials suffered by 
this man of God. He gave up al 1 for Christ, ^eing 
in easy circumstances when he embraced religion, 
he had not only devoted himself, but almost all his 
property to religious objects. He bad begun a large 
new dwelling house, suitable to his former dignity, 
which he, as soon as it was finished, appropriated to 
the use of public worship, continuing to live in the.. 
old one. After maintaining hjs family in a veiy 
frugal manner, he distributed his surplus income to. 
charitable purposes. He also suffered persecutions. 
He was once arrested in Culpepper county, Virginia^ 
and carried into court as a disturber of the peace, 
In court a Capt. Williams vehemently accused him 
as a vagabond, a heretic, and a mover of sedition 
everywhere. Mr. Harris made his own defence. 
But the court ordered that he should not preach in 
the county again for the space of twelve months, or 
he committed to prison. Mr. Ii. told them tha,t lie. 


lived two hundred miles from thence, and that it 
was not likely he should disturb them again in the 
course of one year. Upon this he was dismissed. 
From Culpepper he went down into Fauquier, and 
preached at Carter's Run. From thence he crossed 
the Blue Ridge and preached in Shenandoah. On 
his return he called at Capt. Thos. Clanahan's, in 
Culpepper county, where there was a meeting. 
While certain young ministers were preaching, the 
word of God began to burn in Col. Harris' heart, 
When they finished he arose and addressed the con- 
gregation : " I partly promised the devil a few days 
past at the court-house, that I would not preach in 
this county again in the term of a year. But the 
devil is a perfidious wretch, and covenants with him 
are not to be kept, therefore I will preach." He 
preached a lively, animating sermon. The court 
disturbed him no more. 

On one occasion, in Orange county, Virginia, he 
was pulled down while he was preaching, and 
dragged about by the hair of the head, and some- 
times by the leg. His friends rescued him. On 
another time he was knocked down by a rude fellow 
while he was preaching. But he was not dismayed 
by these or any other difficulties. He seemed never 
to have been appalled by the fear or shame of man. 

Respecting the last moments of this servant of 
Jesus Christ but little is known. For some time 
previous to his death he was seized with an attach 


of paral} T sis, from which he never entirely recovered, 
Though on this account his labors were much in- 
terrupted, he still continued, to the extent of his 
ability, to recommend to all around him the service 
of his Master. He was not willing to be an idler in 
the vineyard of the Lord. At length, after having 
seen more than three score years and ten, he took his 
departure about 1795, from this scene of toil and 
pain to receive a crown of life. 

This sketch will be closed by one anecdote, which 
may serve to illustrate, to some extent, his entire- 
consecration of heart and life to the service of God ; 

" A certain man owed him a sum of money which 
he actually needed to defray the expenses of his 
family. He requested the debtor to pay him in 
wheat, as he had a good crop by hijn ; but the man 
replied that he did not intend to pay him until he 
was sued. Mr. Harris left him, meditating; good 
God, said he to himself, what shall I do ? Must I 
leave preacbing to attend to a lav/ suit ? Perhaps a 
thousand souls will perish in the mean time for the 
want of hearing of Jesus, No ! I will not. Well, 
what will you do for yourself? What ! I will sue 
him at the court of heaven. 

"Shortly after this, Mr. H., passing by to a meeting, 
carried a receipt in full to the plan's house and gave 
it to his servant, desiring him to give it to his master. 
On his return by the house, after meeting, the man 
hailed him at his gate and said, 'Mr. H. what did 


you mean by the receipt you sent this morning?' 
Mr. H. replied, 'I meant just what I wrote.' 'Well, 
but I have not paid you,' answered the debtor. 
'True,' said Mr. Harris, 'and I know also that you 
said you never would, unless the money came at the 
end of an execution ; but, sir, I sued you in the 
court of heaven, and Jesus has agreed to pay me. 
I have, therefore, given you a discharge !' This ope- 
rated so effectually on the man's conscience that in 
a few days he prepared and sent to Mr. PI. wheat 
enough to discharge the debt." 


Elder Lester officiated as pastor of Grassy Creek 
Church some two or three years, embracing the year 
1789. He is said to have been a man of excellent char- 
acter/an acceptable preacher, and a good pastor. The 
church records show that quite a number were bap- 
tized during his pastorate. He labored for a num- 
ber of years in Charlotte county, Ya., and w T as in- 
strumental in gathering the church at Ash Camp, 
which was constituted in 1803. He became their 
first pastor, which relation he held till 1S08, when 
he removed to the west. 

The materials which I have been able to gather 
are too scanty to compile anything like a biograph- 
ical sketch of Mr. Lester. He was doubtless a na- 
tive of Virginia, but where or when he was born, 
where or when he died, &c, I have not been able to 


learn from any to whom I have applied for informa- 
tion. He is said to have been a man of remarkable 
personal appearance — uncommonly large, well pro- 
portioned and corpulent. 


Elder Vass was among the earliest and most suc- 
cessful Baptist ministers of Granville county, N. C. 
The compiler, after making considerable effort to 
obtain information concerning his life and charac- 
ter, regrets his inability to give more than a very 
imperfect sketch ; but he is not willing to pass over 
in silence one who devoted so many years of his life 
in preaching the gospel, and whose labors were so 
valuable in building up the Redeemer's kingdom 
among men. 

But very little is known of his early life. He was 
born in King and Queen county, Va , about the 
year 1738, and entered the ministry before he came 
to North Carolina. 

Elder Vass was twice married. By his first wife 
he had a number of children, but by his second 
marriage he had no issue. 

At what time he embraced religion, or the cir- 
cumstances of his conversion, or when he entered 
the ministry, cannot be definitely ascertained. Eld. 
Vass became the pastor of Grassy Creek church 
about 1790, which, excepting two years, he contin- 
ued to serve with zeal and efficiency until 1814, 


when the infirmities of old age made it necessary 
for him to resign the position. During his pasto- 
rate the church was generally in a prosperous con* 
dition, many refreshing seasons of grace were enjoy- 
ed, many souls were converted under his preaching, 
and many members were added to the church by 

As a man, Elder Vass naturally possessed a strong 
and discriminating mind ; and, without the advan- 
tages of literary cultivation he arose to a very re- 
spectable standing in the ministry. As a preacher, 
he was held in high esteem by the brethren as an 
able minister of the New Testament. He was well 
versed in the Scriptures, firm in his religious prin- 
ciples, and prompt in tTie discharge of his Christian 
duties. His discourses were of a doctrinal cast, but 
they were eminently practical in their tendency. 
He delighted to dwell on those truths which are 
most essential to be known. But, while he delight- 
ed to dwell on the sublime doctrines of Christianity, 
he also urged with earnest zeal prompt and unre- 
served obedience to all the precepts of the gospel. 
His religious views were sound and scriptural. 

As a pastor, he was sincerely beloved by his 
church. He discharged the duties of the pastorate 
with fidelity and tenderness. In church govern- 
ment, as a disciplinarian, he had but few superiors. 
He would not allow irregularities or immoralities 
in the members to pass without notice or correction. 


Elder Vass was a man of fine personal appearance 
• — large and well proportioned, weighing probably 
two hundred pounds — very sociable and courteous 
in his manners. In the pulpit, his manner was sol- 
emn and dignified. His elocution was very good, 
with a voice of large compass and melody, which he 
controlled with considerable skill. He was natu- 
rally possessed of musical talent, which, having 
been cultivated, he employed with great effect in his 
public ministrations. One of his favorite hymns 
which he frequently sang, introductory to his pul- 
pit exercises, was, "Blow ye the trumpet, blow," &c. 

Concerning the last moments of this honored and 
devoted servant of Jesus, the writer can say but lit- 
tle. For several years previous to his death his la- 
bors in the ministry were much interrupted by fee- 
bleness and disease, the attendants of age. About 
the year 1818, Elder Vass, having lived beyond the 
ordinary term of human life, being more than eighty 
years of age, full of years and full of hope, took his 
departure from this sublunary scene, to enter upon 
the rest that remains to the people of God. His 
body was interred in the family burying-ground, 
near Mountain Creek church, there to sleep in sweet 
repose until the morning of the resurrection, when 
the trump of God shall awaken him to immortality. 



Mr. Picket was born in 1752, in the county of 
Fauquier, in Virginia. In his 17th year his atten- 
tion was awakened to eternal things, and after much 
disquietude of mind, he joyfully submitted to the 
righteousness of God. A short time after his con- 
version, he was baptized by Elder Samuel Harris, 
in the county of Orange, Virginia. His earliest ef- 
forts as a public teacher were made when he was 
not more than eighteen years of age. It might be 
justly regretted that the stores of knowledge were 
not then within his reach, and that his mind was 
not then placed under suitable training. Such ad- 
vantages would doubtless have been gladly improv- 
ed by him ; but at that early period, the facilities for 
obtaining education were exceedingly limited. 
With such opportunities as he did possess, he sought 
to qualify himself for usefulness. Such were his de- 
sires to do good, that through many difficulties, he 
urged his way to testify to his fellow-men the gospel 
of the grace of God. He found opportunities of ex- 
ercising his gift in exhortation, and shortly after he 
began to preach. Pie was eminently successful in 
winning souls to Christ, 

At this early period in his ministry, he felt a 
great desire to travel with Mr. Harris, but being 
poor and knowing that unless he followed some sec- 
ular calling for support, his embarrassment would 



be great; this made him very unhappy for some' 
time. Spreading his case before the Lord, this text 
came forcibly to his mind : " Go ye and preach the 
gospel, and lo I am with you alway." He imme- 
diately forsook all earthly employment, and travel- 
ed with Elder Harris, expecting to visit an Associa- 
tion in South Carolina. He was, however, detained 
by severe illness, and left by his brethren in a 
strange part of the world. His sufferings, both of 
body and mind, were extremely severe, but they 
were only the refiner's fire, purging off the dross,, 
and leaving Mr. Picket, like tried gold, to shine 
with seven-fold more splendor. And after his re- 
covery, he felt the smiles of God in a more abun- 
dant manner than he had ever before. He then 
commenced his ministerial travels in North Caro- 
lina and Virginia, disseminating evangelical truth 
in various directions. He was still only about 
twenty years of age. Young as he was, his talents 
were extensively useful. Many acknowledged him 
as the messenger of peace to their souls ; and several 
churches were constituted through his instrumen- 

He had been the means of originating a church 
called Reedy Bottom, which was afterwards merged 
into Mayo, in Halifax county, Va., (now Bethel 
church, Person county, N. C.,) to whose oversight 
he was called at his ordination, which took place in 
1772. He continued their pastor as long as he 


lived ; and in this relation he was characterized by 
his activity and faithfulness. He was not, however, 
confined in his efforts to this congregation. He 
served Grassy Creek church as their spiritual guide, 
from 1805 to 1808, efficiently and profitably. Other 
churches were frequently visited, especially in sea- 
sons of difficulty and trial. He possessed a peculiar 
talent for binding together the hearts of his breth- 
ren, and preserving peace in the church. Among 
the people of God he was universally beloved. No 
man in the Roanoke Association possessed such vast 
influence, and no one deserved it more. For many 
years in succession, he occupied the chair at their 
annual meetings, and always presided with dignity 
and to the satisfaction of all. His talents were not 
of the highest order, but they were of the useful 
kind. He addressed the hearts and sought to reach 
the conscience of his hearers. While he was not 
accustomed to astonish by the brilliancy of his 
thoughts, he rarely failed to produce a very deep 
and solemn effect. His appearance and manners 
were highly impressive. Elder Picket, in his per- 
son, was tall, rather slenderly built, of thin visage, 
of a pleasant countenance and very kind in his man- 
ners. Plainness of speech was the marked charac- 
teristic of his preaching. He was, in his latter 
years, subject to great depression of mind, arising 
from derangement of the nervous system, produced 
by serious injuries which he received by being over- 

118 GrassV creek" church:, 

turned in a gig. From this accident he suffered 
much, and being confined at home for a long time) 
Was greatly depressed Some endeavored to jest 
him out of this state, but he grew worse. Being 
Visited by a minister (thought to be Elder John 
Kerr) he told him all his sorrows. He, entering 
into Picket's feelings, reproved those who had ridi- 
culed him, told him that he was really afflicted, and 
then addressing himself to Picket, expressed great 
commiseration for his condition, told him that God 
alone could help him) and proposed that they should 
unite in prayer. During this exercise his soul was 
lifted up, his gloomy feelings left him, and he was 
filled with joy, which continued until his death, 
which took place Oct. 19th, 1823. 

The memory of this man of God is embalmed in 
the hearts of hundreds of the lovers of truth. 


The writer has made considerable efforts to collect 
materials that would enable him to compile a suita- 
ble sketch of the life and labors of Elder Battle, but 
without success. All the information he has been 
able to obtain was gathered from the recollections 
of two aged friends, now living in the vicinity of 
Grassy Creek Church. They knew Mr. Battle well, 
and remember him very distinctly, but at this dis- 
tance of time they can only furnish some informa- 
tion of a general character in connection with his 


labors in Granville county, daring a space of five or 
six years. 

It is belived that Mr. Battle was born in Edge- 
combe county, N. C, about the year 1780. He 
moved to Granville in 1814 or 1815, and became the 
pastor of the churches at Grassy Creek and Tabb's 
Creek. After serving these and perhaps others, 
some six years, he removed to or near Raleigh, in 
Wake county. He was the compiler of a hymn 
book, which had considerable circulation among the 
Baptists in this region about the years 181G and 1820. 
Mr. Battle was a married man and had children, but 
how many my informants do not recollect. 

As a preacher and pastor he stood high in the 
estimation of the brethren. His manner in the pul- 
pit was calm and deliberate, his style elegant, and 
his elocution smoothe and flowing. He is described 
as amiable in disposition, unassuming in manners, 
and exemplary in deportment, which united in 
forming a lovely character, and rendered him the 
subject of high regard by the people whom he served 
as pastor. In his person he is represented to have 
been a little below medium size, of genteel figure, 
attractive in appearance, with blue e} T es, hair in- 
clined to be light, and was somewhat deaf. He was 
reserved and polished in his manners, having en- 
joyed, it is thought, better educational advantages 
than was common at that day. 


When and where he died tho writer cannot learn 
but it is believed that in the prime of life the Master 
called him away from the sorrows of earth to the 
joys of Paradise. 


Mr. Daniel was born June the 10th, 1773, in the 
county of Middlesex, Virginia. Soon after the close 
of the Revolutionary war, the family immigrated to 
North Carolina and settled in Chatham county. In 
1796 he was married to Miss Penelope C. Flowers, a 
lady in whom he found those excellent qualities 
which prepared her to be a co-worker in his minis- 
terial labors. 

Mr. D. embraced religion in 1802, in his 29th 
year, and uniting with the church at Holly Springs, 
Wake county, N. C, was baptized by Elder Isaac 
Hicks. He was licensed to preach in April, 1803, 
and in July following was ordained to the full work 
of the ministry by Elders Isaac Hicks and Nathan 
Gully. His education was extremely limited, but 
he possessed extraordinary abilities, which were at 
once perceived and appreciated. 

The church at Mount Pisgah was the first that 
shared his pastoral labors. After some years he 
moved to Rocky River, in Chatham, and took charge 
of the church at May's Chapel. While living here 
he served as pastor of the church at Grassy Creek, 
Granville count}'. From Rocky River he removed 


to Saw Mill Church, Marlborough District, South 
Carolina. From that point ho returned to May's 
Chapel. While here he accepted the call to the 
church in Raleigh, and removed to that city. From 
there he moved to Pitt county, and took charge of 
the church in Greenville. Thence he removed to 
the church, at Black Creek, in Southampton county, 
Virginia. Thence to Bullfield, Greenville county, 
Virginia. He then moved to Tennessee, and itine- 
rated for some time in the middle portion of the 
State. Thence he removed to Holly Springs, Mis- 
sissippi. He finally settled in Salem, Mississippi, 
which he regarded as his home at the time of his 
death. He was, indeed, a sojourner, having literally 
no continuing city. This restless feature in his 
character was, in a great measure, the result of his 
naturally sanguine temperament. He was easily 
discouraged, and as easily induced to change his 
place by the prospect of greater usefulness at some 
other. No man had more of Christian uibanity 
and kindness, was more ardently beloved by his 
people, or more deeply regretted when he considered 
it his duty to leave them. 

Another prominent characteristic of our departed 
brother, was an abiding desire to unite the people of 
God in evangelical action, by which they could ac- 
complish more than in their separate capacity. The 
greater part of his life was spent either as a mission- 
ary or as an agent of some missionary society. 


When not especially employed as a missionary or 
agent, the whole region of country, within from a 
hundred to two hundred miles of his residence, was 
frequently visited by him, and especially such places 
as gave indications of revival. In these excursions 
his labors were often attended with the most happy 

In a letter to Dr. Howell he says : " During the 
thirty years since I commenced the work of the min- 
istry, I have traveled for the purpose of preaching 
the gospel about 60,000 miles, and preached up- 
wards of 5,000 sermons, and baptized more than 
1,500 people. Of that number many are now min- 
isters of various grades, but twelve are men of dis- 
tinguished talents and usefulness, and ten, mostly 
through my procurement, are regularly and thor- 
oughly educated. 

Mr. D. was emphatically the friend of young 
preachers. Affectionate and sympathetic in his in- 
tercourse with them, he was ever ready to impart 
instruction, and encourage and sustain them by his 
countenance and influence. His advice was always 
in favor of a close and constant study of the Bible, 
joined with ardent prayer, humility and exclusive 
devotion to the glorious cause. The Bible and the 
human heart were his chief books. His manner 
was natural and affectionate. He possessed a tall 
and manly person, a countenance of the finest 
mould, intellectual and benevolent, a voice in which 


was mingled the sweetness of music and affection, 
For many years the locks upon his brow were white 
as wool. His whole aspect and manner instantly en- 
chained his hearers, and made them feel that they 
were in the presence of a great and good man. His 
piety was consistent, ardent, and cheerful. To his 
closing hour he retained his accustomed vigor of 

At Paris, Tennessee, on the 14th of September, 
J840, in his 68th year, Elder Robert T. Daniel bid 
adieu to the trials and labors of a life consecrated to 
his Master's service, and entered into that rest that 
remains to the people of God, uttering as he left the 
shores of time, " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 


The subject of this sketch was born in Halifax 
county, North Carolina, about 1800. When he was 
some sixteen years of age he professed conversion 
and united with the Baptist church. His father 
being a very wicked man, was so enraged at his 
baptism that he whipped him most cruelly, which 
well nigh deprived him of his life. In mad fury he 
drove his bleeding, lacerated boy away from his 
dwelling upon the cold charities of a selfish world, 
to find a maintenance as best he could ; but the 
youthful wanderer was guided by the unseen hand 
of Providence to the hospitable mansion of one who 
sympathised with suffering humanity, and whose 


pious heart moved with pity by the sorrows of an 
outcast stranger, and beneath whose friendly roof 
he found shelter and protection. Young Worrel, in 
his ramblings, made his way into Granville county, . 
and at length came to Island Creek Meeting-house 
on one of the days for preaching. The church had 
not as yet been regularly constituted, but stated ser- 
vices were maintained at that place, as a branch of 
Grassy Creek Church. After the services were 
closed, deacon Thomas Williams, having observed a 
youthful stranger in the congregation, sought an 
interview with him, and having learned something 
of his history, invited him to his home, which he 
thankfully accepted. He narrated to Mr. Williams 
the circumstances of his case, and showed him the 
still unhealed wounds, which he had received for 
Christ's sake. Mr. W. kindiy extended to him the 
invitation to make his house his home, until he 
could find a more advantageous situation. Soon 
his generous patron became so favorably impressed 
by the evidences of piety and talent, which young 
Worrel exhibited, that he placed him at school* and 
boarded him gratuitously. During the year he 
began to exercise his gifts in public, which gave 

*Mr. Worrel was put under the instruction of Eev. Mr. Wil- 
son, a Presbyterian minister, who was then the Principal of a 
classical school at Williamsboro. lie was so much pleased 
with the young man that he very generously taught him fqr 
three years without charge. 


premise of eminent usefulness. Several persons 
were so favorably impressed with the. young man 
that they proposed to join Mr. Williams in helping 
the struggling youth to obtain an education to pre- 
pare him the better to preach the everlasting gospel. 
He was continued at school two years longer, ma- 
king commendable progress in his studies. Hold- 
ing his membershship at Grassy Creek, the brethren 
materially aided him, and particularly the sisters 
in furnishing him with clothing. Their gifts were 
worthily bestowed upon a pious, noble young man* 
who was preparing himself for great usefulness in 
the service of his Master. 

Mr. "Worrel was ordainpd to the full work of the 
ministry about 1820. He became the pastor at 
Qrassy Creek in 1821 and continued in that relation 
for several years, the Lord blessing his labors in the 
conversion of many souls to God, and adding many 
members to the church by baptism. In 1825 he 
preached at Midway, where his preaching was greatly 
blessed, and where he baptized quite a number. 
Eider W. was the first pastor at Island Creek Church, 
which was organized in 182Q, with fqrty-two mem- 
bers from Grassy Creek. He probably filled tha^ 
office ten years. 

He was the means of originating the ohurch at 
fester's, to whose oversight he was called at its con- 
stitution, which took place in 1823. He continued 
\o be ^,heir pastor for many years. He also served 


as pastor the churches at Peach Tree, Maple Springs, 
Bear Swamp, and others. He performed the duties 
of the pastorate faithfully and to the entire satisfac- 
tion of the brethren. The churches under his care 
were generally prosperous. They experienced many 
precious and profitable revivals. His preaching 
was blessed of God in the conversion of many souls, 
and numbers were added to the churches by bap* 
tism under his ministry. The extent of his useful. 
ness in the Master's vineyard, eternity alone will 
disclose; but doubtless many will, in that great day, 
hail him with joy as their spiritual father, who shall 
shine forever as stars in the crown of his rejoicing, 

As a Christian man, lie was greatly beloved. His 
deep-toned piety, and unblemished character gave 
emphasis to his public ministrations. As a preach- 
er he stood deservedly high among the brethren as 
an earnest, faithful minister of the New Testament. 
He was a man of positive convictions. What he 
believed to be the truth of God, he boldly and fear* 
Jessly proclaimed, regardless of the frowns or smiles 
of men. He was consecrated to the great work of 
preaching the gospel to the children of men. In 
his person as a man, he was of medium height, 
rather slenderly built, of pale complexion, pleasant 
countenance, commanding voice, full of tender 
pathos, good mind, respectable attainments, and 
deep feelings. 

Concerning the last moments of this servant of 


God, the writer has not been able to obtain any ac- 
curate information. EUer W. died in the prime of 
life, in the midst of great usefulness, universally 
respected and lamented. His unblemished life and 
noble character had endeared him to all with whom 
he was acquainted. He died sometime about 1840, 
and was probably forty years of age. 


The subject of this sketch was born in Surry 
county, Virginia, on the 6th of Sept. 1780. His pa- 
rents were Randolph and Annie King, whose maiden 
name was Barker, of English descent and of high 

When James was about five years old his parents 
died and he was made an orphan. After remain- 
ing several years in his native county in charge of 
a pious aunt, whose religious instructions made deep 
impressions on his infant mind which were never 
obliterated, he was removed to Granville county, N. 
C, and put in charge of Mr. Thomas Rix, a relative 
of intelligence and respectability. This was his 
home until he arrived at the age of sixteen years, 
when he was apprenticed for four years to a carpen- 
ter to learn the trade. At the age of twenty, having 
completed his term of apprenticeship, he went to 
work with energy, building houses, churches, &c, 
and soon laid the foundation for a competency; the 
dark cloud dispersed and the sun of prosperity shone 


upon his pathway. In 1802, he united in marriage 
with Miss Margaret, eldest daughter of Win. Alex- 
son of Granville, N. C, with whom lie lived forty- 
one years, and by whom ho had eight children, five 
of whom survived him, and one of that number is a 
Baptist minister. The companion of his youth and 
the mother of his children having died, he wasagain 
■married to Mrs. Martha P. Holloway, with whom 
he lived sixteen years, when he was again made a 
widower, and so remained until his death, which 
took place Jan. 16th, 1870, in his 90th year. 

About the year 1807, Mr. King was awakened to 
a sense of his awful danger as a sinner in the sight 
of God, and was led to inquire earnestly for the way 
of salvation. He wept and prayed, and prayed and. 
wept, until he saw and felt that he could do nothing 
more, and then by divine grace he was enabled to 
give up all for Christ. The plan of salvation was 
made very clear to his view, and his joy m deliver- 
ance from sin was very great. 

Mr. King united with the Presbyterians and be- 
came an esteemed elder in that church. After the 
lapse of some twelve or fifteen years, his attention 
was called by his wife to the question : whether the 
Scriptures authorize infant sprinkling or not? He 
thoroughly and carefully searched the New Testa- 
ment through, time and again, for proof, but in vain. 
But on the other hand he was convinced that the 
Baptists were right; still he strove to quiet his con- 


science, and tried to remain satisfied without chang- 
ing his church relations. But his love for Jesus and 
the obligation to obey him overbalanced every other 
■consideration, and accordingly he determined to 
follow Jesus at all hazards. He united with the 
Baptist church at Bethel, Person county, N. C, in 
1822, and was baptized by Elder Wm. Blair, of Pitt- 
sylvania county, Va. Bro. K. has often been heard 
to say, that " when I came out of the water, I left a 
heavy weight behind me." 

Not long after his baptism he was licensed by the 
church to preach, and the next year the church call- 
ed for his ordination. The Presbytery of the Flat 
River Association, in accordance with the request, 
met and ordained him to the full work of the gospel 
ministry in 1825 or ; 26. 

Elder King fully and cordially embraced the 
sentiments held by the regular Baptists respecting 
baptism, church polity, &c. In his doctrinal views 
he was, what may be termed, a moderate Calvinist 
His education wad limited, but by studying the 
Bible and religious books, and particularly Fuller's 
works, he acquired a fund of useful information. 
His easy and persuasive elocution, his affectionate 
and earnest manner, engaged the attention of his 
liearers, and had he enjoyed the advantages of a 
thorough education, he would doubtless have been 
one of the first preachers of his day. 

Not long after his ordination lie accepted the pas- 


torate of the churches at Bethel, Grassy Creek a:i(P 
Hester's. Olive Branch was shortly afterwards con.- 
stituted into a church, and he became its pastor, and* 
continued in that relation until a few years before 
his death. Buffalo, Ephesus and Mount Zion en- 
joyed his labors as pastor, the two last named, with, 
the addition of Mill Creek,, were gathered and con- 
stituted under his ministry. All of these churches 
ne served for a number of years, some for a longer 
and others for a shorter period. His preaching was 
greatly blessed in the edification of believers and in. 
the conversion of sinners. 

During his pastorate the churches at Bethel,. 
Grassy Creek, Hester's, and Olive Branch, expe- 
rienced a revival of religion which continued withr 
out much intermission for five years. About the 
year 1844, he accepted the care of Buffalo church.. 
The church in a short, time was revived, and up- 
wards of one hundred members were added, sixty 
of whom Elder King baptized at one time in about 
thirty minutes. He traveled extensively during the 
early part of his ministry, preaching from place to* 
place with much power, accomplishing great good 
in the Master's. vineyard. 

Elder K. baptized, during his ministry, 1,500 per- 
sons,, preached 4,500 sermons, traveled 75,000 miles,, 
and read the Bible through fourteen times. 

This man of God labored for the good of souls and 
for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause, until 


he wore himself out preaching the gospel of Jesus, 
until, like the corn that is fully ripe and ready for 
the garner, he bowed his head and gave up the 
ghost. He is gone to reap his reward. His labors 
are ended, his sorrows are over, and his tears wiped 
away. The great battle has been fought, and the 
victory forever won. 

The memory of those who have devoted their 
lives to promote the welfare of our race, should not 
be allowed to sink into the black waters of oblivion. 
They should have a place in the grateful recollec- 
tions of posterity. While the body of our venerable 
brother reposes in the dust, his name and deeds, as 
a herald of the cross, are still fresh and fragrant 
with many who have enjoyed and been benefitted 
by his self denying labors. 


This servant of God having been pastor of Grassy 
«Oreek church, is kindly remembered by the brethren 
who will be pleased to preserve a memorial of his 
•character and labors as a minister of reconciliation. 
■He now resides in Winston, Forsythe county, N. C, 
and is still actively engaged in the work of the min- 

- Bro. Baldwin was born in Richmond county, N. 
C„ Dec. the 4th, 1825, and was the third child and 
eldest son of Osborn and Mary Baldwin. 

He professed conversion in July 1845, and united 


with the church at Cedar Falls in October following, 
He was baptized by Elder Wm. Lineberry, who was 
then the pastor of the church. 

In September, 1849, he was licensed by the church 
to the gospel ministry, and in January, 1850, he 
went to Wake Forest College to study for the minis- 
try, where he graduated with distinction in June, 
1856. Immediately after his graduation, he was 
appointed Agent for the Baptist State Convention, 
in which capacity he labored until December, when, 
having been called to the pastorate of the church at 
Hillsboro, he resigned the Agency and entered upon 
the duties of his office as pastor. In 1856, he was 
ordained to the ministry by Elders Hooper, Win- 
gate, McDowell, Brooks, Walters and Skinner. In 
1858, he removed to Oxford and took charge of the 
church in that town. On the 21st of April, in the 
same year, Bro. B. was married to Miss Addie L. 
Transon, a lady well qualified to aid him in the 
great work to which God had called him. In 1859 1 , 
having resigned his care of the Oxford church he 
moved into the country, and took charge of a classi- 
cal school, and at the same time he also served as 
pastor the following churches namely : Hester's, Mfc, 
Zion, Amis Chapel and Grassy Creek. In Novem- 
ber, 1861, he moved to Forsythe county, and became 
Principal of the Academy in Bethania, and likewise 
the pastor of Union Hill church in Davidson coun- 
tv, and E.non in Yadkin county. Bro. R. was in- 


strumental in gathering the church at Mocksville, 
the county seat of Davie. He was their pastor some 
five or six years. Besides the churches already men- 
tioned, he has served as pastor for a number of years, 
Mt. Gilead, Bear Creek, Eaton's, and is now serving 
the church at Red Bank, in Stokes county. 

Soon after the close of the late war, lie moved to 
East Bend, in Yadkin county, and took charge of 
the Academy at that place. The school was pros- 
perous, and he taught successfully for a number of 
years and accomplished great good in promoting the 
educational interests of that region. 

More than twelve yearsofBro. Baldwin's life have 
been devoted to teaching, during which time he has 
taught a large number free of charge, and invaria- 
bly gave tuition gratuitously to all young ministers 
who would avail themselves of the offer. The stu- 
dents whom he prepared for college usually stood 
high in their classes, and in the institutions which 
they attended. Many of his former students, in ad- 
dition to those who became intelligent farmers, have 
taken, and are taking a high stand in the ministry, 
in medicine, and in law. 

Bro. Baldwin is at this time (1880) engaged in 
putting into successful operation the High School of 
the Yadkin Association at Boonviile, Yadkin coun- 
ty, N. C. He originated the idea, and is the prime 
mover in the enterprise. The brethren have put 
the Institution into his hands to manage its organic 


zation, and make it in all respects what its name 
implies, a School of High Grade. 

Bro. Baldwin stands deservedly high as a good 
scholar, a good preacher, and a good educator of 
youth. May his useful life long be spared to labor 
for God and the welfare of mankind. 


Elder Marsh takes high rank among the preach- 
ers of the Flat River Association as an able minister 
of the New Testament, ready for every good word 
and work. He is a man of broad mental culture, 
having enjoyed superior educational advantages. 
He graduated at the University of North Carolina, 
and afterwards studied Theology at Greenville. South 

Mr. R. H. Marsh, the youngest child of Robert 
and Lucy Marsh, was born on the Sth of November* 
1837, in Chatham county, N. C. He was baptized 
October 2d, 1856, and licensed to preach the gospel 
March the 6th, 1859. His first sermon was deliv- 
ered on the night of the 10th of April following, 
from Acts xvii : 30, as a text. Two and a-balf years 
afterwards he was ordained to the work of the Chris^ 
tian ministry. In the beginning of the late war 
the Governor of North Carolina appointed him to 
take charge of the 26th Regiment of State Troops as 
Chaplain. This position was held but a few months 
when he was superceded by a Confederate Chaplain. 


In the spring of 1862 he removed to Oxford, and 
devoted the rest of that year to teaching. The next 
year he became the pastor of Grassy Creek, Moun- 
tain Creek, Tally Ho and Concord churches. After 
having served the church at Grassy Creek satisfac- 
torily and successfully for three years, it became 
necessary, in the providence of God, for him to re- 
turn to his native county. While at Grassy Creek, 
Elder Marsh was esteemed " very highly in love for 
his work's sake." After an absence of three years, 
Elder M. was recalled to Granville. He has labored 
extensivel}', with a large measure of success, among 
the churches of the Flat River Association. Bro. 
M. was instrumental in gathering the church at 
En on, whose oversight he has maintained ever since 
its organization, and under his ministry it has be- 
come one of the most efficient churches in the Asso- 
ciation. He now resides in Oxford, and is actively 
engaged in the great work of preaching the gospel. 
May his days be many and full of usefulness. 


Biographical Sketches of Ministers sent 
out either as Ordained or Licen- 
tiate Preachers from 
this Church. 


Mr. Walker was probably a native of Mecklen- 
burg county, Va. He was a lay elder and a licen- 
tiate of Grassy Creek Church. He removed to 
Georgia about the year 1771. He was one of the 
constituent members of Kiokee Church,. which was 
organized by Elder Daniel Marshall in 1772. This 
was the first Baptist Church ever regularly constitu- 
ted in Georgia. Mr. W. appears to have been quite 
useful as a minister in that then frontier country. 
It is said that he was very zealous in proclaiming 
the gospel ; and that he, with other licentiates, as 
co-laborers with Marshall, was efficient in gathering 
the scattered sheep of Christ into the fold, and in 
multiplying believers unto the Lord. 

Elder Walker, who, by way of distinction, was 
called meek, having been ordained to the full work 
of the ministry by the Kiokee church, settled on 
Fishing Creek, in Wilkes county, Ga. Here he la- 
bored with marked success, preaching the gospel of 
the grace of God in regions round about him. There 
were in the vicinity a number of Baptists, who had 
either emigrated thither, or were the fruits of the 


labors of Elder W. himself, in union with other her- 
alds of the cross. These were soon gathered togeth- 
er, and in 1783 they were formed into a regular 
church, called Fishing Creek church, and it is pre- 
sumed that Elder W. was their first pastor. 

He was one of the first, as well as one of the most 
prominent, ministers in the formation of the Geor- 
gia Association, which was organized in 1784. He 
was honored at some of the meetings of this body 
by being elected to fill the Moderator's chair. He 
appears to have been a man of exemplary christian 
character, much beloved by his brethren, and useful 
in proclaiming the word of the Lord. 

The writer of this regrets his inability, for the 
want of the necessary information, to sketch the life 
and character of this man of God, who has long 
since gone up to the home of the blest, to reap the 
reward of his toils and sacrifices to promote the com- 
ing and triumph of the Redeemer's kingdom. 


Mr. Whitehead was born in Granville county, N. 
C, about the year 175(3. He was the son of Samuel 
Whitehead, who was a lay-elder at Grassy Creek, a 
prominent citizen and an active, valuable member 
of the church. His parents were in comfortable cir- 
cumstances, and consequently their son enjo} r ed bet- 
ter opportunities of education than ordinary at that 
day. Early in life William professed conversion, 


and united with the church. He was baptized ill 
December, 1774, by Elder James Reed. At what 
time he began to preach, the writer cannot learn, 
but probably soon after his baptism. He was dis- 
missed by letter in 1778, and removed South, but to 
what point the compiler cannot determine, but it 
seems that he at length settled in the Pearl River 
Valley, in Mississippi, the middle portion of which 
was open to white settlers immediately after the 
Revolutionary war. This portion of Mississippi 
soon became very generally settled. Among the 
immigrants were a number of Baptists of respecta- 
bility and influence. It is thought that Elder 
Whitehead was among the number, from the fact 
that he was among the first ordained ministers of 
that region. He appears to have been active and 
prominent in the organization of the Pearl River 
Association. He seems to have been a diligent and 
Useful minister of the blessed gospel of Jesus, and 
accomplished much good in his Master's vineyard. 


Mr. Creath was born in Nova Scotia, December 
23d, 1768. His father immigrated to Granville 
county, N. C, in 1786, and became a permanent res- 
ident of the State. His son William, about twenty 
years of age, joined Grassy Creek church in 1789, 
and was baptized by Elder Henry Lester. The 
same year he began to preach Christ and him cm- 


•cified. Possessing promising talents, he was invited 
by Elder John Williams, a highly distinguished 
•minister of the gospel c-f Lunenburg county, Va., to 
'reside with him -for the improvement of his mind. 
-He remained under the instruction of this piousand 
talented man some two or three years, during which 
: time he made considerable progress in knowledge. 

Mr. Creath was married in -1791 to Miss Lucretia 
-Brame, with whom he lived for more than thirty 
years in Mecklenburg county, Va. They had six- 
teen children, some of whom died in infancy. 

Allen's Creek and Wilson's Creek churches arose 
out of his labors. He was for some time the pastor 
-of Maloan'-s church, in Mecklenburg county. But 
for many years he Was employed almost entirely in 
itinerating labors, making long journeys through 
.portions of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. 
As a public speaker he commanded the attention of 
his auditors, and usually called out large congrega- 
tions whenever he preached. He was an active and 
laborious minister of the gospel, but he does not ap- 
pear to have been verysuccessf-il as a pastor— -owing 
to his itinerating habits, spending comparatively 
but little time at home with his churches. He was 
a very useful man, willing to spend and be spent in 
his Master's service. 

Elder Creath was a man of talents and deep re- 
search in matters of divinity, but was thought by 
some to have been rather fond of treating on points 


of religious controversy, and thereby exciting un- 
necessary prejudices. 

He left home on the 4th of July, 1823, on a preach- 
ing tour in Eastern Carolina, from which he was 
not permitted to return. He was arrested by dis- 
ease, and at the residence of Mr. John Blount, in 
Edentoo, N. C, on the 9th of August, 1823, in his 
fifty-sixth year, he closed his earthly pilgrimage r 
and fell asleep in Jesus. . 

On this his last tour, it is said that he preached 
with unusual unction and power, as if struggling in 
the last battle, in full view of the Celestial City, and 
conscious of certain victory. As his joyful soul 
takes flight he sings : "Farewell vain world, I. am 
going home," &c. 

There is one other item that is worthy of special 
remark : all thirteen of his children whom he left 
behind, became members of the Baptist church, and 
three of this number ministers of the gospel. 


Mr. Richards was born in Essex county, Virginia, 
in 1763, of highly respectable parents. At the age 
of eighteen he was brought to the knowledge of the 
truth through the instrumentality of the Baptists. 
His relations and friends were violently opposed to 
his uniting with that sect, everywhere spoken 
against, and resorted to every expedient to prevent 
it, but, having examined the Scriptures and learned 


the path of duty, lie was immovable in his determi- 
nation, aud accordingly united with the Baptist 
church in 1781. In following Christ he was caused 
to suffer many severe trials, but he bore them all 
with meekness. His deportment was so upright 
and consistent with his profession, that the mouths 
of gainsayers were stopped, and soon all were com- 
pelled to respect him as a good man. He very soon 
felt it to be his duty to preach, and at once began to 
exercise his gift in public. His earliest attempts 
were unpromising, and many were of opinion that 
he would never stand high as a preacher, but in this 
they were mistaken. He immigrated to North Car- 
olina and settled in Granville county. The most of 
his first efforts were made while he was a member 
of Grassy Creek church. He was ordained at this 
church in November, 1793, by Elders James Reid, 
George Roberts and Reuben Picket. Having been 
invited by the Blue Stone (now Bethel) church, in 
Mecklenburg county. Virginia, to become their pas- 
tor, he removed into the vicinity of that church, and 
became permanently settled for life. He served as 
pastor several other churches. His labors were ex- 
tended to different parts of Mecklenburg, Lunen- 
burg and Charlotte for many years, to the joy and 
edification of the people of God. He was a good 
pastor. The church found in him an example of 
unaffected simplicity of character and Christian 
loveliness. They, with their pastor, were not only 


prompt in their efforts to build up at home, but also 
liberal in their contributions to the cause of mis- 
sions, and indeed to every benevolent enterprise 
that had the glory of God in view. He was an ex- 
cellent disciplinarian. No abuses were allowed to 
Remain uncorrected. His influence was great in the 
Meherrin Association, over which he presided as 
Moderator for a number of years. As a preacher, 
ho was highly esteemed, not so much for deep 
thought or beauty of language, but for the peculiar 
simplicity and energy with which he exhibited 
scriptural truth. He was emphatically a preacher 
of the cross. 

For several years before his deathj feebleness com- 
pelled him to relinquish all pastoral connections. 
Still he loved the house of God, and would not for- 
sake it as long as his strength would permit him to 
attend. At length the hour of his dismissal came, 
and found him ready. He joyfully committed the 
mighty interests of eternity into the hands of his 
divine Redeemer. On the 13th of July, 1837, itt 
the 74th year of his age, and 50th of his ministry, 
he left the land of shadows and death for the climes 
of life and immortal blessedness. 


Mr. Allen was born in Virginia, Jan. 4, 1773. He 
"was the sou of Samuel and Mary Allen, who was 
Mary McCollister. In his early childhood his pa- 

biographical sketches. 143 

rents moved to North Carolina and permanently 
settled in the Northern part of Granville county, in 
the vicinity of Grassy Creek church, of which they 
were both worthy members — his father sustaining 
the office of deacon. No information worthy of no- 
tice concerning his early history has been obtained. 

On the 29th of January, 1794, in his 22d year, 
Mr. Allen Was united in marriage to Miss Rebecca 
Barnett, a lady of high respectability and piety, and 
through whose influence he was subsequently 
brought to a saving knowledge of the truth as it is 
in Jesus. Mr. A. united with the church at Grassy 
Creek, and was baptized on the 4th Sabbath in De- 
cember, 1800, by Elder Thos. Vass. Soon after his 
connection with the church, such were his convic- 
tions of duty that he began to exhort his fellowmen 
to flee the wrath to come. As he continued to ex- 
ercise his gifts, the brethren encouraged him to per- 
severe, and licensed him for the gospel ministry. 
He preached at various points in the surrounding 
country with much zeal, God owned and blessed 
his efforts, and many were benefitted by his minis- 

In 1808, Mr Allen moved to Lincoln county, N. 
G, where he remained until 1811, when he returned 
to Granville and settled for life in the south-eastern 
part of the county, some three miles from Wilton. 
The writer has no information concerning the 


brother during these three years, but he was doubt- 
less busily employed in the Master's vineyard. 

In 1812, Bro. Allen was ordained by Elder James 
Weathers and others, at Cedar Creek church, Frank- 
lin county, with which he had united after his re- 
turn from Lincoln county. The church at New 
Light, Wake county, enjoyed for many years his 
ministerial labors as pastor. He was instrumental 
in planting the church at Brassfields, which he 
served as pastor for twenty years. He commenced 
preaching at Corinth, in 1832, once a month, and 
continued until 1st August, 1835, when the church 
was regularly constituted. He was then elected to 
the pastorate, which office he held until 1842, when 
feeble health made it necessary for him to resign 
his charge. 

He was instrumental in gathering the church at 
Fellowship, which he served as pastor for a number 
of years, very satisfactorily to the brethren. The 
churches under his charge were generally united in 
brotherly love and Christian affection. 

Elder Allen was a man of strong mind and sound 
in doctrine, with a warm heart and flaming zeal, 
devoted to the Master's cause, full of faith and good 
works. A brother who visited him in his last ill- 
ness says he found him "full of faith and the com- 
forts of religion." 

He died on the 20th of February, 1845, in the 
seventy-third year of his age, in full assurance of a 


blessed immortality. Thus this eminent servant of 
God passed away, after spending a long life in the 
service of his divine Master. He was greatly bless- 
ed both temporarily and spiritually. He brought 
up a large family of children, ten in number, all of 
whom lie lived to see profess conversion, and whom 
he had the pleasure of baptizing into the fellowship 
of the same church. When he baptized the last one 
he was so overwhelmed with joy that he exclaimed 
in the language of Simeon : "Lord, now lettest thou 
thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have 
seen thy salvation." 

When old age and its infirmities rendered him 
unfit to perform the duties of the pastorate, he con- 
tinued to visit the house of God, and preached 
whenever his strength would allow. 

As a preacher, he was much esteemed, not for 
beauty of language, but for the earnest simplicity 
with which he exhibited divine truth. He labored 
extensively among the churches of the Flat River 
Association, and over which he often presided as 


This brother lives at Bethel Hill, in Person coun- 
ty, N. C. Although he has passed the meridian of 
life, and is now on its shady side, still he is in the 
vigor of manhood, and actively engaged in the work 
of the ministry. He stands deservedlv high in the 


estimation of his brethren, as a faithful, zealous la- 
borer in the Master's vineyard. Bro. M. was born 
near Oxford, the county seat of Granville, October 
23d, 1818. Having been reared by pious parents, 
who brought up their children in the nurture and 
admonition of the Lord, and, as it might be expect- 
ed, under such training, lie was, at a very early age, 
the subject of many religious impressions; but he 
was not fully awakened to a true sense of his guilt 
and danger, and brought to feel deeply the necessity 
of a change of heart, until the summer of 1839. A 
short time after his conversion he united with the 
Baptist church at Corinth, and was baptized by El- 
der Zachariah Allen, in the 21st year of his age. 
Not long after his connection with the church, he 
became deeply impressed with the conviction that 
it was his duty to devote his life to the work of the 
gospel ministry. He suffered much mental anguish 
in considering the subject ; and for a long time he 
was anxiously asking, "Lord what wilt thou have 
me to do?" in reference to the ministry. Being 
sensible of its solemn responsibilities, and his unfit- 
ness for that high calling, he shrank back at the 
thought of such an undertaking. He struggled 
w r ith God in prayer, with many tears, to be released 
from the obligation, but still he felt : woe is me if I 
preach not the gospel. At length, having become 
fully satisfied that it was his duty to preach, and 
having received from his parents only a business 


education, he felt the necessity of a better cultiva- 
tion of of his intellectual powers to qualify him for 
the great work of the gospel ministry. 

In Jannary, 1843, after consulting with his most 
judicious friends, and by the advice of that man of 
God, Elder Samuel Wait, involving no little worldly 
sacrifice, he connected himself, as a student, with 
Wake Forest College, At this institution of learn- 
ing he remained two years, receiving instruction in 
literature, both secular and theological; for, at this 
time, by special arrangements, all the students were 
to a limited extent instructed in theology under the 
supervision of Dr. Wait and Prof. J. B. White. 

After leaving college, and having exhausted his 
means, it became necessary for him to engage in 
teaching school for the support of his family. Bro. 
Montague continued in this business for a number 
of years, and at the same time preaching in many 
destitute places, with evident tokens of divine ap- 
probation. In passing, the writer, from long and 
intimate acquaintance with Bro. M's family, wishes 
to say that amid all the trials and sacrifices our 
brother has experienced in his vocation, his estima- 
ble wife has ever been to her husband a help-meet 
indeed, and has ever seemed to delight in aiding 
him in the great work of his life. 

In 1848, Mr. M. moved to the vicinity of Grassy 
Creek and united with the church, where he holds 
his membership up to the present time. 


In 1850, Grassy Creek church, by a unanimous 
vote, invited Elders Jas. King, S. A. Creath and R. 
I. Devin, the pastor, to meet on the 23d of February, 
as a Presbytery, to ordain Bro. John E. Montague 
to the gospel ministry. Bro. M. was publicly set 
apart to the full work of the ministry at the date 
above given. 

In 1851, Bro. M. was called to the care of Aaron's 
Creek church, in Halifax county, Virginia. He 
continued in that relation nine years. His labors 
were greatly blest in building up the church, and 
adding to its membership by baptism. Under his 
superintendence, the brethren built a new house of 
worship, creditable alike to pastor and church. 

In 1853, Elder M. accepted an appointment of the 
State Mission Board of the General Association of 
Virginia, to preach at Dryburg, Halifax county, Ya. 
The following year a Baptist church was regularly 
constituted*at that place, The Board continued to 
aid the church in supporting the pastor two or three 
years, when it became self sustaining. Bro. M. 
preached for this church thirteen years, the Lord 
crowning his labors with much success in the up- 
building of Zion, and in making large additions to 
its membership. In the meantime, a commodious 
meeting-house was built for prayer and praise and 
the public administrations of God's blessed word — a 
sanctuary unto the Lord. 

In 1853, Elder M. became pastor of Bethel church, 


Person county, N. C, and after serving the church 
ten 3^ears resigned the charge ; but he was recalled 
to the pastorate in 1871, in which relation he has 
continued to the present time (18S0). This old 
church, constituted in 1774, has recently built anew 
house of worship that reflects honor upon the com- 
munity in which it is located. This church main- 
tains a happy standing under the efficient labors of 
its devoted pastor. 

In 1860, Elder M. was called to the .pastorate, of 
Musterfield church, Halifax county, Va , and after 
serving the church eight years resigned. His la- 
bors were attended with a large measure, of success. 
Many souls professed conversion under his ministry 
and quite a number were added" to the church by 

In. 1864, Elder M. took the oversight of Buffalo 
church, Mecklenburg county, Va., and sustained 
that relation until December, 1879 — a period of fif- 
teen years. Daring this time several very precious 
revivals of religion were experienced by the church, 
and many were added to its membership by bap- 

In 1867, Bro. M. was chosen by Clement church 
as their spiritual guide. After serving this church 
for a time he resigned his charge and became the 
pastor of Olive Branch church. Both of these 
churches are in Person county, N. C. Bro, Monta-^ 


gue is still serving the Olive Branch congregation 

In January, 1854, Elder M. entered upon the pas- 
torate of Mill Creek church, Person county, N. C, 
which office he still holds — a period of twenty-six 
years. Bro. Montague's labors in connection with 
this church have been abundantly successful. Its 
membership is now (1880) larger than it has ever 
been since its constitution, and yet there are but two 
male members belonging to it who were there when 
Bro. Montague took the pastoral care of the church. 
Great changes have taken place in Mill Creek 
church since our brother became their spiritual 
guide. The old hull of a house has disappeared, 
and a new, neat and handsomely painted one taken 
its place. The generation then living has nearly 
passed away, and another has arisen to take its 
place. The membership is mainly composed of the 
descendants of the brethren who have gone to the 
spirit land, converted under the ministry of its pres- 
ent pastor, and baptized by his hands. 

In addition to his regular pastoral work, our 
brother has been accustomed to preach at different 
points, either statedly or oecasionalty^thus guard- 
ing the outposts of his various charges. In this 
way he has performed much gratuitous labor among 
the destitute, doing good service for the Master, 

Date Due 


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NOV < 


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10V0 2 


B- - > 


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jut i * 1/ 

WUL I 3 1! 

Ill I A a. 


JUL 2 7 


JAN 19 '46 

DFC 4 '51 

MAY 24*91 

OCT 2 7 

FEB 15 

U ■■' - - 78 

L. B. Cat. 

^Jo. I!37 

Duke University Libraries 


Div.S. 286 Dl^H 


History of Grassy Greek 

Baptist Church 



yO-t hm ^i ht'^.u 


386 D495H